Saturday, 31 January 2015

Aleppo Syria 10/3
Expert: The US Strategy In Syria Is A Complete Mess"The United States cannot organize and regiment the entire opposition, but it can back any faction that retakes areas from ISIS. The only way to motivate the rebels to do so is to openly support their justified stance against Assad remaining in power.
Develop a strategy to remove Assad via diplomacy, information messaging, and military/economic power. The longer he is in place, the longer Syria will be divided. Once Assad goes, it will be possible to put the pieces of Syria back together again."

Friday, 30 January 2015

The Abdication of Moral Responsibility

The Abdication of Moral Responsibility

 "There’s no denying Assad’s extraordinary brutality: Since the Syrian government turned over its chemical weapons, its most notorious weapon has been the barrel bomb — an oil drum or similar container filled with high explosives and metal fragments. Syria’s air force typically drops these bombs from a helicopter hovering at high altitudes, to avoid anti-aircraft fire. From that height, it is impossible to target with any precision. The barrel bomb simply tumbles to earth, making its dreaded swishing sound as its contents shift back and forth, until it hits the ground and detonates.

 Barrel bombs are so inaccurate that the Syrian military does not dare use them near the front lines, for fear of hitting its own troops. Rather, it drops them on areas held by rebel groups, knowing that they will destroy apartment buildings, hospitals, schools, and other civilian institutions. Some civilians who have not fled the country have moved their families near the front line, preferring to brave snipers and artillery rather than the horror of the barrel bombs.

 This, then, is the new banality of evil. When the Syrian government attacked civilians with chemical weapons, the United Nations Security Council pressured Assad to stop and to surrender his weapons. But as the Syrian government kills countless more civilians by indiscriminate attacks with conventional weapons, the Security Council, blocked by Russia, has largely stood on the sidelines. A number of states have condemned the slaughter, but have done little more to generate pressure to end it.

 This selective concern is a gift to extremist recruiters who portray themselves as the only ones willing to stand up to Assad’s atrocities. Simply attacking the Islamic State is not going to end its appeal — a broader concern with protecting Syrian civilians is required."

Mobilization efforts on the rise in Syria’s war of attritionGiven a chance, and Syrians choose the revolution. We are many, they are few.
' “There are fighters who defect from the FSA and join the hard-liners,” he said. “But there are also cases when Nusra Front [Syrian] fighters defect and join FSA-aligned groups, because they end up becoming suspicious of what Nusra is up to, and their priority is to fight the regime.”
He said the FSA militias continue to be hampered by the low salaries that they pay, meaning their fighters regularly face the temptation to join the better-financed Islamists. For White, the regime faces the “fundamental problem that it is a minority regime with minority allies, whose willingness to keep paying the ‘butcher’s bill’ is uncertain.” '

Syria: Civilians living under the constant fear of sniper fire

syria sniper

 "Civilians in many parts of Syria live under the constant fear of sniper fire. Children play on the streets behind makeshift barricades to protect them from snipers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.
The ancient city of Aleppo has become a battleground, with government snipers occupying the historic Citadel. Many residents are trapped in their homes, caught in the cross-fire. The Free Syrian Army have put up signs warning people to walk on a certain side of the street to avoid snipers' line of fire."

 Not two sides as bad as each other, the Free Syrian Army doesn't murder civilians as Assad's forces do. And regardless of the way the doomsayers put it, there still is a Free Syrian Army.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Image result for ali ferzat syrian refugees

Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat turns spotlight on UK’s failure to take in more refugees
"In a brazen act of defiance in 2011, his award-winning caricatures depicted President Assad as a broken dictator, sitting on a broken armchair over a broken country. The regime’s response was rapid and brutal; he is now living in exile in Kuwait after masked gunmen, who he describes as “Assad’s thugs”, attempted to silence his sharp satire by pulling him out of his car, shattering his hands and leaving his fingers broken."

Solidarity is not a Crime: Statement from the Minnesota Committee in Solidarity with the People of Syria 
"After four years of the Syrian conflict, it is unacceptable for us to say “it’s too complicated.” We must not be complicit with the war crimes of the Assad regime by our silence. Listen to Syrians. Learn the facts. We can stand in solidarity with their epic struggle for freedom and dignity AND, at the same time, oppose U.S. military intervention."

A Kurdish fighter walks with his child in Kobani after Kurdish forces recaptured the strategic Syrian border town

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Some of Patrick Cockburn's nonsense has been amended, he's not pretending Turkey is encouraging ISIS and al-Nusra since he interviewed the Turkish prime minister. The reason ISIS have been able to get through to the Qalamoun from Eastern Syria is that Assad's forces let them through, something that never enters Cockburn's worldview where they are deadly enemies.

"Isis has been advancing towards the city of Homs as well as gaining strength south of Damascus and at al-Qalamoun, close to eastern Lebanon."
He takes an American general as the authority to say that the time to arm moderate rebels has passed. He conflates ISIS and the rebels against Assad, and asserts that they and al-Nusra dominate the opposition without ever saying what other forces they are. The Syrians wanting to overthrow Assad with a democracy and those fighting to enable that dream are invisible to him.
"Retired US General James Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee this week that in the war against Isis, the US has a “strategy-free” stance. He said that in Syria, America’s political objectives were uncertain and the time for supporting “moderate” Syrian rebels had passed. The Syrian armed opposition is increasingly under the control of Isis and its rival, the al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra."
Cockburn doesn't repeat his call for an alliance with Assad, it is increasingly implausible as Assad has done so little to fight ISIS since Cockburn said they couldn't be stopped without a deal with Assad. He restricts himself here to saying that only the jihadists would benefit if the bombing and torture stopped. It is meaningless to say the Americans want rid of Assad if they plan to do nothing about it. It is not the Syrian Army that maintains the Assadist state and its terror now, but foreign soldiers and the shabiha gangs, noone should mourn the death of such a state.
"The aim of the US and its allies is to defeat Isis, but also to get rid of Assad, though his fall would probably lead to the break-up of the Syrian army and benefit Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra."

Dr Faisal Al-Qasim

Information that the Syrians may not know
"Four months before the outbreak of the Syrian revolution, intelligence officials summoned a number of opposition figures to meetings where they were addressed by Tawfiq Younes, the Head of Internal Security in Damascus. He threatened them by telling them that he had strict orders from the president to shoot any Syrian who goes onto the streets to protest. The regime, he said, was ready to face any revolution, even if it had to destroy the country and kill hundreds of thousands of people in the process. Others have said that this means killing half of all Syrians if necessary.
Advocates of a political solution at this point do so because the plan to crush the revolution has failed miserably, and the regime is facing defeat. Any negotiations from hereon are intended to save Al-Assad. Do not forget, though, that Bashar Al-Assad and his allies wanted to crush the revolution from the first day and end it through a military option, but failed; so why do some people want to save them from failure?"

Wednesday, 28 January 2015


Hezbollah is Flogging a Dead Horse
"No amount of false, face-saving, cynical “resistance” to Israel by means of occasional, patchy attacks on groups of IDF men will atone for the fact that Hezbollah is now flogging a dead horse. Nobody sees it as a “resistance” organisation anymore. In fact, they see it for what it is, and always has been: a tool of Iran that is guilty of taking part in a genocidal war against the Syrian people. Four dead IDF soldiers will never, and can never, justify the precious lives of hundreds of thousands of Syrians. The morally-selective “resistance” supporters who pander to their line would do well to remember that."

CIA’s Covert Effort To Arm Syrian Rebels Plagued By Red Tape and Skimpy Supplies

It is a delusion that Western intervention is what's killing Syrians. From the Wall Street Journal.
' “We walk around Syria with a huge American flag planted on our backs, but we don’t have enough AK-47s in our hands to protect ourselves,” a leader of the Hazzm Movement, among the most trusted of the trusted commanders, told U.S. lawmakers in a meeting after Nusra’s advances.'

Display at Holocaust museum

Syrian torture: Will photos turn US opinion?
"The regime caused all of this but now they seem to be the angels fighting the bad guys. Who cares anymore about 200,000 people who got killed or hundreds of thousands who are in prison or ten millions of people [made] refugees who lost their houses? 
It seems no one really cares."

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Exclusive: Obama Cuts Off Syrian Rebels’ Cash
"In Syria, few rebel fighters want to join a force focused only on ISIS. They argue that Assad is responsible for considerably more deaths among them and their extended families than ISIS, which is able to draw defectors from their ranks because it pays much higher salaries to its fighters and because it is able to exploit distrust of American intentions toward the Syrian revolution.
U.S. officials now acknowledge difficulties recruiting from insurgent ranks, conceding it is a serious challenge finding enough recruits willing to put off fighting the Assad regime.
Aleppo-based rebels say they have no choice but to work with al Nusra and the Islamic-Front-aligned factions that are among the strongest armed groups in the war-torn city. Without them, Assad’s forces would overwhelm the rebels.
“What do the Americans expect us to do?” asks a commander in the operations room. “Al Nusra is popular here. It is a perilous time for us—Assad is pushing hard.” "

Beirut: Activists Protest Visa Restrictions on Syrian Refugees
"The organizers criticized the “traditional left” for not condemning the atrocities being committed and for allowing their political commitments to come before the suffering of the Syrian people.
The organizers pledged to continue their movement in solidarity with the Syrian people despite their modest numbers.
“The revolutionary left is being built” said Daw, “it is built by cooperating with the people and not by arrogant empty rhetoric and expressing of disgust with their movement because it has to be in accordance with a certain agenda.” "

Claims of arms transfers to Syria by Turkey are exaggerated, says expert
“Do you know the number of people who have crossed from Iran to Syria to fight? Some 40,000. I’m not just talking about volunteers, I’m talking about uniformed soldiers of the regime - the revolutionary guards. That’s why I am angry about this. No one talks about them, but everyone keeps talking about Turkey.”

Bitter Lake: Adam Curtis

Watch Here

I'd agree that the Western ruling classes create stories, but they aren't the only ones, and especially it is the other imperialist narrative of Russia and Iran that has become the default position of the Western media when it comes to Syria. When Curtis says [2h14m], "Western politicians are having to accept that the simple division between good and evil doesn't exist. By bombing ISIS they are allowing the evil President Assad to remain in power," they are actually following the same policy as in Afghanistan of bombing jihadis and ignoring oppression, but here he approves of it.

Linking all the jihadi groups to the Saudi ruling family seems to assume that similarities in ideology are all, and differences in political context mean nothing, so that they've been at each others throats since Osama Bin Laden declared war on the Saudis is ignored, in favour of the idea that they are really on the same side. It reminds me of Daily Mail stories which blame the 7/7 bombings on crazy Saudi educational materials imported into Britain. I think it might be a bit racist, but don't know enough about the subject to say for sure.

View image on Twitter

Syria Daily, Jan 26: Insurgents Celebrate Victories Across Country
There's a shifting reality in Syria.


The Islamic State Has Lost Kobane, According To Kurdish Forces
On 4th January, Patrick Cockburn* wrote, "Above all, Isis is strengthened in Syria by the fact that the West, Turkey and the Sunni Arab states are seeking the fall of Assad, Isis's main opponent, as well as the overthrow of Isis itself." It doesn't seem to have done them any good. The surprising thing isn't that his pro-Assad prognosis is wrong again, but would be if any of Cockburn's fans on the left noticed.

Free Syrian Army fighters run behind sandbags in Daraa Al-Mahata, in southern Syria, on Jan. 21. Many moderate rebels joined the uprising to fight against President Bashar Assad, but the U.S. plans to train them to fight the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

Syrian Rebels Want To Fight Assad, But Now They'll Face ISIS
"In his meetings with Americans, he says he explains that stopping terrorism requires stopping it at the source. He says Assad allowed ISIS to grow by releasing extremists from prisons and not conducting military operations against the group.
Like the others, Zaabi wishes the coalition would try to defeat Assad and ISIS. The U.S. says it's seeking to pressure Assad to step down, rather than routing him militarily.
But Zaabi says if Assad doesn't fall, a whole, brutalized generation will grow up to be extremists."

Monday, 26 January 2015

Respected journalist Goto aims to tell world of Syrians’ suffering
"In a report he filed for NHK in 2012, Goto reported how the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad tortured its people. His dispatch showed how the torture hardened anger against the Syrian government and recruited people to the side of the rebels. The report also included mostly mosaicked footage of citizens tortured by government forces after taking part in a peaceful demonstrations."
Also see, “Two or three years ago he was held captive by al-Qaida-linked forces, but he was released after explaining his intentions to the captors. He said he had the advantage of being a journalist from Japan, which, unlike the U.S. or the U.K., has never participated in air strikes,” that would be al-Nusra I guess, who aren't very nice people, but aren't the same as ISIS, wanting to get rid of Assad rather than just act as barbarians in his wake.

The intimacy of tyranny: Syria's de facto state legitimacy
There is a refugee crisis because of Assad's use of terror to cling on to power, he's still there because foreign powers protect him, and we don't hear this explicitly because so many of the refugees rely on not being identified by this terrorist state.
"As empirical evidence of this, the Syrian refugees I interviewed across Lebanon from 2011 to late 2013, predominantly coming from the areas of the political opposition, suggest that the Syrian government’s legitimacy has been maintained through the diplomatic moves of the foreign powers, as well as the need of Syrians themselves to preserve their own life chances, professional achievements, personal satisfactions - their desire to remain “legal citizens” despite their aversion to the government. Everyday life, sometimes sees no other alternative."

Saudis Expand Regional Power as Others Falter
"Mr. Assad, a client of Iran, is one strongman the Saudis want to be rid of, but some analysts argue that the United States is now following the broader logic of the Saudi preference for stability over democracy by softening its demands for Mr. Assad’s exit."

Image result for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Our Man in Damascus
"Assad and Iran also aren’t doing all that much to defeat Islamic State, which continues to hold major chunks of Syria. Instead they have focused on defeating the non-jihadist rebels that Mr. Obama has said the U.S. supports. This makes strategic sense for Assad, who wants to become the only alternative to ISIS so the West will have nowhere else to turn.
How this helps America’s long-term interests is hard to see. The U.S. would have degraded one radical jihadist threat, ISIS, in return for empowering another one, Shiite radicals backed by the bomb. Congress should ask the Administration to clarify if Assad really is Mr. Obama’s man in Damascus."

Syria rebels overtake strategic base in south
"The south is the last major stronghold of the mainstream, anti-Assad opposition, who have been weakened elsewhere by the expansion of the ultra-hardline Islamic State group in the east and north, and gains by the Nusra Front in the northwest.
However, Nusra is fighting in the south alongside the Western-backed groups, who have proved more united there than in other parts of Syria."
Here we see that Nusra and ISIS are not the same thing (though there was a worrying report that Nusra has ordered Ansar al-Islam (FSA) in the Eastern Ghouta to disarm), and that there are moderate Syrians wherever they receive some support.

Shifting Realities in Syria

Repeating common untruths, the New York Times comes out for working with Assad. No it would not take direct US intervention to unseat Assad, but allowing the Free Syrian Army the anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons necessary to stop his depredations. The US and Assad ostensibly share a common enemy in ISIS, but in reality it is in Assad's interests for ISIS to dominate the areas liberated from his rule, as the only legitimacy he has left is that he is (debateably) better than they are. It's unclear how plausible is any Russian-backed deal that keeps Assad murdering and torturing, but we can state with certainty that the idea of such as John McCain that moderate Syrians can overthrow Assad is a fantasy. Because we don't know a lot about Syrians, but what we can be certain of is that they aren't moderates.
"A recent study by the RAND Corporation, which does research for the government, says the collapse of the Assad regime, while unlikely now, would be the “worst possible outcome” for American interests — depriving Syria of its remaining state institutions and creating more space for the Islamic State and other extremists to spread mayhem."

Sunday, 25 January 2015

West neglects suffering of Syrian people by limiting focus to anti-terrorism campaign: Politician

West neglects suffering of Syrian people by limiting focus to anti-terrorism campaign: Politician
"Seida also pointed out that the Syrian revolution, according to the majority of Western citizens, has now been diverted by the extremists and radical groups. “Therefore, Assad remaining in power seems the lesser evil, according to the West. This explains why Hezbollah fighters and Iranian Revolutionary Guards supporting Assad troops are seen as better than Islamists who fight on the other side. The majority of Western citizens, who constitute the prevalent public opinion there, do not have time and willingness to make the effort and thoroughly seek the actual reality of the complexity of the Syrian situation. Western governments usually take advantage of public opinion, especially if it is in favor of their interests and consistent with their agendas.” "
From 2nd January. I'd say that the simplicity of the situation is obscured by the mainstream media narrative, and that those Wetern leftists who imagine they are opposing Obama and Cameron's warmongering in Syria are simply following their agenda in avoiding providing the necessary help to Syrians fighting for their freedom because of the establishment fear of Islamists.

Syria: The Policy Cul-De-Sac

"No one, not even regime apologists, can argue convincingly that this civilian-centric policy of mass murder and mass terror provides stability in an otherwise chaotic country."
There are idiots who say that it is the opposition, composed of Saudi proxies, and "Western colonialism", that are destabilising Syria. I don't find them convincing, but they manage to convince themselves.

The cover image, by Amjad Wardeh, of a book called Art of Resistance: Collected Cartoons from the Syrian War features Syrian President Bashar al-Assad snorting building dust as if it were cocaine.

Syrian cartoonists lampoon Bashar Assad and Islamic State"The destruction of Syria was beyond our imaginations," says Wardeh. "Assad was addicted to turning our cities to dust. That was his cocaine."

Isis members in Aleppo, Syria

The secret world of Isis training camps – ruled by sacred texts and the sword
I wish the lies about ISIS and the FSA, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, all being on the same side to overthrow Assad, would stop, but they won't.
“Why do we fight the Free Syrian Army? We spread our message by proselytisation and sword. Ibn Taymiyyah said ‘the foundation of this religion is a book that guides and a sword that brings victory’. We guide and the sword brings victory. If someone opposes the message of the prophet, he faces nothing but the sword. As the prophet spread the message across the Earth, we are doing the same. When al-dawla [ISIS] first fought the Free Syrian Army, it was a problem for many. They did not believe the accusations. But later, one thing after another began to unfold and people started to accept them.”

Betrayal, Obama style
"Obama was asked whether his decision not to intervene in Syria has attracted foreign fighters, he answered that this ‘mischaracterizes our position. We haven’t been standing on the sidelines. It’s true we did not invade Syria…’ as if an invasion was ever a serious option. These fake protestations don’t hide the fact that the Obama administration sees Iran now as a valuable if unofficial ally in the war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
The cause of helping the Syrian people free themselves from the tyranny of the Assad regime is no longer urgent or a priority. President Obama would have been in a much better position, morally, had he not betrayed his own commitments and promises to the Syrian people. Obama will try to cover his betrayal by claiming that he is still helping the Syrian people. He may be immune to any moral anguish, because of his betrayal and because of his actions or inactions in Syria. But he cannot escape Syria’s sorrows being part of his legacy."