Friday, 24 July 2015

One refugee's journey from a Syrian prison to London

One refugee's journey from a Syrian prison to London

' "Organising protests through the internet was our weapon at the time in the face of the tanks that had surrounded Daraa and Homs," said Ziyad.
They had called for a lifting of the siege imposed on the two cities through peaceful protests for six months, until security forces started shooting at protesters, saying that protesters had shot first.
The protesting youths decided to respond in kind, according to Ziyad, and began arming themselves with pistols, rifles and automatic weapons procured from Arsal in Lebanon.
They began responding to regime fire on protests. However, it was notable that the army did not pursue them for about a month, only later launching a surprise attack against their neighbourhoods and homes.
However, the protesters overran army checkpoints in the Damascus countryside and seized their weapons. They started planning an operation to storm Damascus.
The plan did not materialise, as the regime employed a scorched earth policy in dealing with protesters. According to Ziyad, the regime would surround an area with tanks and then launch airstrikes against it. Hundreds of civilians died in this way, he said.
The father was told to remain silent or he would also be arrested. An unfortunate neighbour who was passing by their house was also arrested, as well as a teenager who asked what was going on.
Ziyad has suffered from an easily dislocated shoulder since his childhood, and when one of his torturers was dragging him, his shoulder became dislocated again. This discovery amused the soldiers in the room, and they pulled the shoulder out of its socket and replaced it several times just for fun.
Ziyad and his brother remained in prison for about three months, while their parents did everything they could, contacting influential people and giving around two million Syrian lira (almost $40,000 at the time) in bribes to secure their release.
The prison cell in which the brothers were held was only a few metres square, but held approximately 60 prisoners - unable to sleep due to the cramped conditions.'

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Son of Former Ambassador Threatens Zabadani's Residents

'Haydara Sulaiman, son of the former Ambassador of the Assad regime in Jordan, wrote that on his Facebook account on a photo that shows Zabadani's civilians holding banner that says: " We want safe passage to the cemetery, to bury our martyrs."
Haydara, who has always been a big fan of Assad, replied to the sign saying (Cynically): "Why safe passage, we will provide you with bulldozers, fuel and matchsticks ... Don't be anxious!!!"
It's worth mentioning that Zabadani city is completely surrounded by the regime and Hezbollah, after it was the destination of displaced families who fled their houses in other areas. The city is under daily brutal shelling with vacuum missiles, barrel bombs and artillery that killed dozens of civilians, amid fierce resistance shown by opposition forces who are trying to stop regime from capturing the city.'

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Where Do You Go To My Lovely?

  February 2020. President Assad has gone on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands, and leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn is being interviewed by the ever-smarmy Andrew Neil for the Daily Politics, just as the date of the General Election is due to be announced.

 "Mr. Corbyn, President Assad has gone on trial for the most appalling crimes, documented in detail by members of his now fallen régime. You, as chair of the Stop The War Coalition, have denied his responsibility for those crimes, instead blaming Western intervention, and have even called friend his accomplices in Hezbollah. Why should the British people trust the Neville Chamberlain of our day, who would let the worst genocidal maniacs have their way, if he could only claim 'Peace in our time'?"

 Syria is not Germany in 1939, the answer is not world war but to support those Syrians fighting Assad, but once Jeremy Corbyn and his friends in the Stop The War Coalition are finished destroying the credibility of left-wing politics for a generation, you would not know the difference.

 If you're left-wing, and you aren't one of the handful that daily follows the Syrian revolution, you're going to think this is scaremongering. Because either you're part of the majority who still believe the conspiracy theories, like the US backs ISIS, or chemical weapons are just a hoax like Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. You'd all be in for a shock if you really cared about those things when the truth becomes plain in front of your face, but most will pass it off as not their fault, they were just trying to be skeptical or anti-imperialist, you can't blame them for that? The Syrians you didn't care about can, and will, and the region left the worst mess imaginable is partly there because you thought Russia Today, or the more sophisticated rendering of Patrick Cockburn, were a useful counterpoint to the mainstream media and politics driving us into another Middle East War, not realising that Western politicians didn't care about Assad, and the threat of military intervention was itself the hoax designed to stop us caring about Syrians.

 Or you are one of the part-time supporters of the Syrian revolution. These people get very upset if you question what they've done to support the Syrian struggle, because they want to make it very clear that they aren't like those pro-Assad people, at least as long as their interest in Syria lasts. But when it comes to anything else they don't make the link. When it comes to Greece, it doesn't matter if you reprint the views of a supporter of the genocide in Syria. If someone is anti-Israel, it doesn't matter if they back Assad to the hilt. When it comes to British politics, it doesn't matter if Miliband lied when he claimed he stopped a war in Syria. Because Syria is an issue to keep in a box, and as long as you put the right label on it everything will be alright.

 Those who've been following Syria day-by-day know this isn't adequate. Because Syria is different. In terms of the level, institutionalisation, and capitalisation of the violence. This is not just a repressive régime that tortures and murders a number of its opponents. It is one that is daily torturing and starving 150,000 people (and imprisoning another 50,000) more, in the most brutal way imaginable, and then selling survivors back to their families for large ransom payments. A régime like that can never be reformed to become less psychotic, too many of those running it have a stake and a responsibility for the way it is. Many of those with a part-time interest in Syria will say they don't need to see atrocity photos, that they know what is going on . But until you know the real scale of the Assad catastrophe, and understand that this goes on daily and has only been getting worse as Assad has been allowed to get away with it, you aren't going to see that the failure to support Syria is going to to come to dominate politics as time goes on, and it is only by bringing out the truth and seeing the links that any sort of progressive politics can be preserved. You can't talk about the crisis of refugees dying in the Mediterranean without pointing out that it is Assad who has driven so many Syrians out of the country, that it is the failure to back his opponents that has left the crisis to spiral out of control, or you are irrelevant. Better than the people still dismissing the torture photos as CIA fakes, but when the right-wing, we'll intervene when we want to, backlash comes, that won't help much in holding it back.

 And I've only talked about torture, there is also the barrel bombing, the chemical weapons, the mass rape, the sieges, the mass burning of crops, and a whole bunch of other crimes to consider.
I don't know if Jeremy Corbyn is going to be leader of the Labour Party. I don't see some shift to the left that has taken everyone by surprise. Perhaps hordes of Telegraph readers have handed over £3 to encourage the Labour Party down a left-wing road. If it wasn't for Syria, I'd be all in favour of him. I don't think any of his opponents will provide anything other than reheated Blairism. But I do think that anyone who thinks he is going to revive Left-wing politics in this country is pissing in the wind. If there is going to be a progressive politics in this country, it will be one that has firmly rejected the politics of Stop The War, and clear that everything needs to be done to support the Syrian struggle, because otherwise we're all going to be portrayed as worse than Nazis.

Yes, Talk with Syria’s Ahrar al-Sham

By Robert S. Ford and Ali El Yassir
"The administration’s current approach to Syria, however, is helping to ensure the fragmentation of the country; the present trajectory will not produce a future government of a unified Syria. Moreover, lumping Ahrar and Nusra together is intellectually sloppy, especially when they exhibit ideological and political differences. This is not to say that the United States has no differences with Ahrar. There are many, with some, such as respect for human rights and respect for Geneva war conventions, quite serious. Ahrar will have plenty of complaints against the United States as well. Nevertheless, the larger question is whether the United States should open channels for dialogue, however difficult the conversation will be. Talking is most certainly not giving military aid or arming. Our refusal even to talk with groups like Ahrar further reduces the little influence Americans still have in Syria. As the Assad regime steadily weakens, the administration keeps trying to lead the opposition from behind, hoping for an opposition white knight to appear. Instead, because Islamist groups like Ahrar strongly influence decisions about the fate of Syria, Washington will be left behind."

Isis could have been 'nipped in the bud' with attack on Assad in 2013 say ex UK defence chiefs

Syrian president Bashar al Assad

This can cut both ways, towards helping the opposition, or to military intervention as the answer. At least the former solution is getting some airplay.

"Some of us did warn that if we didn't deal with President Assad back in 2011-12 and were not seen to support the opposition properly, then more and more people would be drawn to extremist organisations — Al-Nusra, and now Isis," said Richards.
"We are our own worst enemy. We simply ignore problems," said Robertson,
 who urged the UK's politicians to do more to convince the public why the
 government needs to take military action. "Unless people are convinced there
 are things worth fighting for, then we'll be in trouble. We're faced with Isis now,
 it's a headline issue, it's horrifying." '

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

David Cameron extremism speech: The PM's Churchillian posturing over Syria is misguided

Image result for David Cameron extremism speech: The PM's Churchillian posturing over Syria is misguided

"Syrian generals have reported back to Damascus that the Western air bombings have been of no use to their own forces in repelling Isis."
We can see that Robert Fisk's posture is unashamedly pro-Assad. Syrian generals haven't done much to repel ISIS themselves, perhaps those Western airforces should have been helping the Syrian rebels who do fight them.

 "The Syrians abandoned Palmyra; military personnel left behind were later executed in the Roman ruins."
And those Assad had locked up in Palmyra prison and tortured sometimes for decades, were freed, if they hadn't already been moved to another dungeon.

 "It might have been better, needless to say, if we’d asked our Gulf Arab allies to stop sending weapons to the Syrian rebels who were giving them to the Islamists whom, in turn, we were bombing."
It's just racism to claim that all these Muslims are the same and will give all their weapons to whoever is most extreme. None of these states or groups was giving weapons to ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, who have been bombed by the Americans, are still using all the weapons they get to fight Assad's forces.

  "There is a Syrian air force, which will now be operating alongside the Americans."
Assad's airforce don't bomb ISIS, though they occasionally bomb civilians in ISIS-controlled areas. The Americans aren't yet barrel bombing civilians in Aleppo and Daraa, so this isn't quite accurate.

Assad Intelligence killed veteran actor Khaled Taja: former prisoner

Assad Intelligence killed veteran actor Khaled Taja: former prisoner

' “I have seen crimes cannot be imagined” 
He told Zaman al-Wasl about regime’s plans to sneak from the Arab Observers’ plans to free prisoners. “toward the end of 2011, we were told by new prisoners that Arab Observers Committee was due to visit Syria to help in freeing prisoners, to escape from that, the regime kept taking us out of the prison daily via buses from 8:00 am till 10:00 pm over 10 days period, we used to be 65 prisoners in a bus.”
Another incident about the regime’s attempts to escape from promises to free prisoners was when they were put in a basement form hours because the Arab Observers Committee wanted to do an urgent visit to prison. “There I met two old prisoner with long beard, I was shocked to know that they were not aware that Hafiz al-Assad had died and Bashar has become a president.”
The prisoner who was released on-bail after being accused of terrorism mentioned that he saw Khaled Taja, the well known over seventy years old Syrian actor detained in the same prison, he confirmed that Taja was cruelly tortured and once he saw him hanged from his hands when we were in our way to the bathrooms. He mentioned that he had not believed that Taja was in the same prison till he saw him in his own eyes.'

Khaled Taja

I'm a Syrian and I fight Isil every day. It will take more than bombs from the West to defeat this menace

Militant Islamist fighters hold the flag of Islamic State (Isil) while taking part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province in this June 30, 2014 file photo. 2014 saw the rise of the Sunni militant group Islamic State, which has seized swathes of territory in both Syria and Iraq.

"Almost two years agothe House of Commons met to decide whether to take military action against Bashar al-Assad. Few people would have predicted that the vote by MPs, taken a week after the Syrian dictator attacked opposition-controlled suburbs of Damascus with chemical weapons, would set off a chain reaction in the region and beyond, the cost of which we are only beginning to fathom. Keen to exorcise the ghost of Tony Blair and score political points, the Labour leader Ed Miliband marshalled just enough votes to defeat the Government motion. President Obama quickly developed cold feet about punitive air strikes and the rest, as they say, is history.
And what a history it has been. Four million Syrian refugees, eight million internally displaced, and three hundred thousand civilians dead, the vast majority at the hands of Assad’s murderous conventional war machine, tells only part of the story. The aftershock of that vote was felt further afield, as far as Moscow in fact, where President Vladimir Putin felt he could capitalise on the West’s lack of resolve to pursue his expansionist policy in Ukraine.
In Ahrar Al-Sham we have lost 700 of our fighters in battles against IS since January 2014, and we and our allies are holding a 45km front line against Isil in Aleppo. We know what it is like to confront the menace of Isil. But Cameron should be aware that any further undermining of the Sunni Arab interest in the region in favour of Iran and its proxies will only empower Isil. We believe that Isil is not only a security or military threat but a social and ideological phenomena that needs to be confronted on multiple levels and that requires a national Sunni alternative to both Assad and Islamic State.
Thanks to Ed Miliband’s posturing two years ago, the opportunity to deal an early blow to Assad and bring the conflict to an early conclusion was missed. Two years of inaction have only made things worse. Washington’s current policy of undermining the Sunni interest in the region while pandering to Iran is furthering weakening efforts to defeat Isil, rid Syria of Assad and bring about a political resolution to the conflict. As the RAF readies to join in the military coalition against Isil, Britain’s government would be wise to consider new approaches to fighting the extremist group that goes beyond just dropping bombs."

Scenes from Inside Aleppo: How Life Has Been Transformed by Rebel Rule

'This infighting provokes the anger of residents in the rebel neighborhoods. Many blame these disputes, and the resulting lack of coordination, for halting the rebels’ advance. In more idealistic days, someone drew a mural on a wall in the Al-Ferdous neighborhood—it shows an F.S.A. fighter bleeding. The original caption read: “(People) forgive us if we make mistakes. We, the F.S.A., are dying for you.”
On it, someone added the word “liar.”
This anger boils when the sky starts raining barrel bombs.
Around me, men shouted, their faces strained and their words indistinguishable. Women wept hysterically. Children screamed. A policeman warned the crowd: “Civilians leave now! There’s a helicopter in the sky. He’s going to do it again!”
The Syrian air force has a habit of following their first barrel bomb with a second. People say this is to kill first responders. (The government still denies that it uses barrel bombs.)
Despite this, the crowd did not run away. They dug in the rubble with their bare hands—old men, Civil Defense volunteers, and militants alike—all except the media activists shooting video. When they found a victim, they gathered to help snatch them out, screaming “Allahu Akbar” as they did. Once they laid the victim in an ambulance, they began to dig again.'

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Syria, Daraa – the result of 2 TNT barrels on Tariq Al Sad


Syria: Preempting the Worst, Should Assad Fall

"For Syrians who for years have been on the receiving end of regime criminality, it is no doubt infuriating to see the reality of an ongoing holocaust trumped in Western policy circles by fears of a possible abomination accompanying the fall of a heartlessly cynical and brutal regime. For 12 million Syrian victims of regime atrocities the argument that Assad provides some kind of stabilization service is bewildering. For Syria’s neighbors—awash in refugees—the open-ended continuation of refugee-producing murder and mayhem can hardly be attractive.

Imagine how articulated fears about Assad “leaving the wrong way” are processed by those who have begged the West for protection, only to be told that their plight does not rise to the “never again” standard; that the absence of United Nations Security Council consensus and the primacy of a nuclear deal with Iran render them unqualified for protection by parties having the ways and means to provide it. Imagine the credibility of the US “train-and-equip” recruiting pitch to nationalist Syrian rebels: pay no attention to those who drop barrel bombs on hospitals, schools, mosques, and bakeries—come help us fight ISIL while we entreat Moscow and Tehran to support political transition in Syria.
Through barrel bombs, starvation sieges, torture, rape, and pillage they have implanted in minority communities a fear of vengeance; fear designed to bind these minorities to the survival of a regime that steals from them while sacrificing their children. 

The result is that large scale acts of vengeance victimizing innocent civilians cannot be ruled out if the fall of the regime—the family and its inner circle of enforcers—creates a security vacuum. It is not at all clear that the departure of a corruptly incompetent clan would have such an effect. Yet the response to this challenge simply cannot be one of Western action or inaction, tacitly supporting Iranian efforts to keep the mass murder machine in place and well oiled. As long as that machine functions, ISIL will have a recruiting case to make to desperate Syrians. As long as the machinery of industrial scale homicide keeps humming, the peril to those held hostage by the regime will increase.
The message from Secretary of State John Kerry to his counterpart, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif should be stark: stop the barrel bombing or we will. 
To avoid taking steps—diplomatic for sure, military if necessary—to protect Syrian civilians from Assad regime mass terror is to promote extremism and to imperil those Assad has taken hostage. Failure to protect Syrian civilians is the policy equivalent of endorsing Assad’s strategy: a strategy that kills the innocent, shames the West, and facilitates the work of ISIL. Only through inaction in the face of this real, ongoing outrage can fears of Assad “leaving the wrong way” receive the ultimate form of validation: the fulfillment of a bad dream."