Saturday, 22 August 2015

'You are all responsible for our death', declare besieged Syrians

Men help an injured civilian after what activists said were air strikes by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on a busy marketplace in the Douma neighbourhood of Damascus on August 12.

"There is a deep sense of grievance amongst many Syrians that the West seems to have abandoned them by focusing so singularly on fighting the Islamic State even as the regime continues its brutality".

Syria, Etc.

 "Now, the everyday violence and death Syrians witness is no longer recorded in full force unless events surpass the daily “acceptable” quota of death—like it did on August 16 in Douma, after more than 100 people were killed by a regime aerial attack on a crowded marketplace. These kinds of mass tragedies, like the chemical weapons attack in 2013 and the Daraya massacre in 2012, capture the world’s attention—headlines, outrage, condemnation—for a few moments before Syria’s suffering once again fades to white noise. When the country has been reduced to smoldering ashes and its people have been forced into a mass exodus to new countries and new homes, our capacity to document—to speak or write and chant—dwindles. History collapses into a simple etcetera.
 At the beginning of the revolution, documentation existed in the present tense, serving to expose what was happening in real time, and breaking Syria’s history of oppression by finally speaking and showing truth. But now, the urgency to be noble and fearless witnesses has faded. There is no humane “world” that exists to plea to for help. Syrians once believed that uploading hundreds of videos of barrel bombs dropping from regime helicopters on civilian areas would be enough to declare a “no-fly zone”—because what world would watch a government indiscriminately bomb its people and stay silent? People believed that documenting repeated chemical weapons attacks would eventually end them. Instead, Obama’s “red line” became a green light for the Assad regime to continue using chemical weapons, including chlorine-laden bombs, even after a United Nations Security Council resolution to ban them. People believed that more than 55,000 smuggled images of tortured, skeleton-like corpses in Assad’s prisons would create an international outrage that would finally send Assad and his regime where they belonged—a trial at The Hague. Instead, Syrians were left alone to battle Assad, Al-Qaida and ISIS."

Friday, 21 August 2015

Why Al Jazeera will not say Mediterranean 'migrants'

 "It is not hundreds of people who drown when a boat goes down in the Mediterranean, nor even hundreds of refugees. It is hundreds of migrants. It is not a person – like you, filled with thoughts and history and hopes – who is on the tracks delaying a train. It is a migrant. A nuisance."

 Yes, they are refugees, not migrants. They didn't just fly south for the winter. This isn't some natural catastrophe, but a lot of people fleeing from the Assad government. And people fleeing the battle between the American occupation of Afghanistan, and the Taliban, and many escaping the paranoid police state that Eritrea has begun during the course of its battles against the former occupier Ethiopia. But those are conflicts the world largely ignores now, while on Syria it deliberately turns away from the cause of the problem, and the language from those politicians trying to stop refugees arriving, to those of the Left who can't bring themselves to support any struggle against Assad that might bring this crisis to an end, is that of migration, of an inevitable flow. The world could stop this now, if we allowed the Syrians to defend themselves, and stopped making it easy for Assad to wage war on them.

Noam Chomsky, Rogue States and Nuclear Dangers

 "Whatever one thinks of Hezbollah, Hamas, or other beneficiaries of Iranian support, Iran hardly ranks high in support of terror worldwide."

 Try telling that shit to the people of Zabadani. Chomsky once again, shows he hasn't got a clue what Iran and Hezbollah are doing to Syria.

Reading into the Douma market massacre

Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad

"The Douma market massacre is the inevitable result of the failure of the international community to support the freedom of the Syrian people and is a natural product of talking about the inevitability of a “consensual” political solution that grants the head of the Syrian regime immunity against any legal prosecution.
When the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is a supporter of President Bashar Al-Assad, makes a statement hours after the Douma massacre shamelessly saying: “We support the legitimate president of the Syrian Republic,” the result is more massacres awaiting Syrian cities.
We can say that the Douma market massacre and Al-Zoubi’s statement in Tehran are messages to the international community and the local community that Assad’s regime will not step down regardless of the cost. It is also a message that pressuring the regime, rejecting its proposals, or presenting proposals that include the elimination of the regime will inevitably result in more incidents like the Douma market massacre.
How can anyone imagine that the people of Douma, or the people of any other city or town in Syria, will co-exist with the person who killed them, displaced them and did to them what no other invader in history had done?
The shameful and ironic part of this is that the commander of Jaysh Al-Islam is exploiting this massacre by using it to prove that Zahran Alloush’s approach is the right approach. This approach includes refusing to engage in any battle with the regime in the heart of Damascus, which other opposition forces consider to be Alloush’s failure to provide support to the other nearby fronts in eastern Qalamoun.
Today, everyone is asking one question: Does Douma need an uprising similar to that of Idlib against Jamal Maarouf, leader of the Syria Revolutionaries Front. This uprising opened the door to strategic victories and has become an example of revolutionary achievements.
In this I am not referring to Alloush personally, but in his capacity as commander of Jaysh Al-Islam and their military strength. Their only concern has become pleasing America, even if that means giving up their own banner and raising the flag of the Syrian revolution, and marketing itself as the most moderate and organised Islamic faction and the most capable of replacing Al-Assad in the event that his regime falls."

Thursday, 20 August 2015

A Day in the Life

 Come to a march from Trafalgar Square at 2pm to Downing Street on Saturday to remember those massacred in Syria two years ago tomorrow with chemical weapons by the Assad régime. Bring some flowers. Fuck's sake.

 Primo Levi, who survived the concentration camp at Auschwitz, says at the start of one his books that when they told the guards that they would pay one day for their crimes, they were jeered at and told nobody would ever believe them. That's what has happened to Assad's victims, lied about the world over, told they might just as well be perpetrating these attacks on themselves to gain the world's sympathy. It's the greatest lie of recent years, that those Assad is bombing and torturing, shelling and sniping, torturing and starving, are no better than he is.
 And other lies go to support it. If people call for outside help, as the people of Kafranbel or the refugees of Zaatari, the largest refugee camp in the world, did, you are a stooge of America, and want them to invade Syria the way they did Iraq. Any argument that the Syrian people should be allowed to defend themselves against this illegal war, is lost in the charge that you are pro-imperialism.
 It is an illegal war. It's a crime to target civilians, it's a crime to use weapons of mass destruction. If America really were trying to intervene to overthrow Assad, survivors like Qusai Zakarya would have been all over the news non-stop. But instead you have to search yourself, to bother to search yourself, to get any knowledge of what's going on. As someone remarked the other day, one attack on a market in Sarajevo provoked international intervention, Assad does that every day, and nobody lifts a finger.
 In fact for the Americans it is a win-win if the conflict goes on. Iran and Hezbollah get weaker, and any time they want an excuse to intervene, they can point to the inaction of the Security Council over Syria, most notably Russian and Chinese vetoes, as the reason they should be allowed to proceed with whatever future actions with a humanitarian cover they propose.
 Conversely, if there were any truth to the genocide-deniers story, someone would have been found to point the finger at the rebels.
 So come along Saturday, and say, never again. Because it's the right thing you do. Because if you don't, Syrians, and anyone who cares about mass murder, will think it is only American interventionists who care about life at all.

Rebels kill another Lebanese occupier in al Qusair as Iranian efforts to occupy the province continue


19-08-2015: A number of the Lebanese Shiites resettled in and around al Qusair in Homs province after Hezbollah ethnically cleansed most of the Syrian population there are now growing olives on the farms stolen from Syrian residents in the area who were slaughtered or driven out by Hezbollah, with another of the illegitimate settlers reportedly killed on Tuesday.
The Lebanese militia has established heavily manned ‘safe corridors’ for hundreds of Shiite families from south Lebanon who are being resettled in Al Qusair and the surrounding area, along with the families of Assad’s Tehran-backed ‘National Defence Force’ Shiite militias, in a move to connect the area with the Hezbollah-controlled Shiite Bekaa valley region in Lebanon and regime-controlled coastal areas in Syria.
Shiite sources report that the man killed on Tuesday, named as Ashraf Hassan Ayad (pictured), was eulogised by the Hezbollah leadership who claimed that he represented a model for the ‘pioneer’ families in Al Qusair. He was reportedly killed by gunfire from Free Syrian Army forces in the area while cultivating olive trees on the farm there illegitimately occupied by the Lebanese settlers.
Hezbollah now has a massive presence in the south of Syria extending from the Lebanese border all the way to Homs city after it seized control of Al Qusair (located around 15 miles from the border) and the surrounding area with the help of Assad’s forces and other Tehran-backed foreign militias, massacring, terrorising and expelling most of the majority-Sunni population.
Hezbollah also played a leading role in helping the regime in 2012 to destroy the registry office in Homs which contained all the ownership records and documents for homes and land in the province in order to deny any legal or other rights to the rightful owners of the confiscated properties. Unfortunately the records had not yet been computerised. This was a prelude to seizing the land and properties and transferring ownership to Lebanese Shiites and some Assad regime loyalists chosen by Hezbollah.
Speaking to ‘All4Syria’, a Shiite dissident familiar with events said that the Assad regime had pursued a very deliberate policy of ethno-sectarian forced displacement against residents of Homs city and province as part of Iran’s occupation project in Syria. The Lebanese Shiite families being moved to the ‘cleansed’ areas are provided with funding and financial incentives by the Iranian regime to encourage them to stay in these areas and thus expand Iranian influence over the Syrian-Lebanese border areas. As well as being offered money by Iran, the foreign occupiers are given (stolen) homes and land and further incentives to live there.
This in turn has allowed Bashar al-Assad to move many of the remaining regime loyalists to Homs city and province since they will be supportive of Iranian occupation rather than supporting the return of the indigenous peoples to their homes. Speaking to All4Syria, Wael Abu Rayan of the City of Rastan’s media office said that more details of this project have been emerging since a truce between regime forces and the FSA in the area led to the mass exodus of rebels and residents from Homs city to the northern countryside of Homs province following a brutal months-long siege which saw the regime cut off all supplies of food, water and humanitarian aid.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

From a doctor in Douma

 "When I arrived at the Intensive Care Unit, minutes after the air raid, a man stopped me and said “don’t go in there because there’s no space left in the ICU except for the wounded” then another man interrupted him “let him in, he’s a doctor.”
 I wish I had not been in that hospital yesterday and that I did not see what I saw -- a sea of blood and the wounded, doctors and medics were swimming in it.
 As I come to the realization that we have all reached breaking point in that wretched hospital room, a voice came down to us as if from above. We all listen attentively to this voice hoping it will say something to calm us down, the voice starts... “Guys, empty the Intensive Care Unit.. the warplane has launched a second strike, and a third, and... and a tenth.”
 And I begin to see the injuries multiplying, the number of deaths multiplying. And I realize there is no more blood for transfusions, no more sanitized medical equipment and no more serum bags but we continue working as if it’s the end of the world.
 A few hours have elapsed since the air raid and I now look across the Intensive Care Unit. At least the ground has been emptied of its injured although the beds are still all occupied. I begin to feel that the situation is a bit more manageable now. This is when the rescue operations end and the real catastrophe begins. The Syria Civil Defense teams have documented more than 100 deaths.
 I move through the operation rooms and see exhausted doctors who have performed more than 70 surgeries during the past few hours. They have seen guts spilled out, amputated legs, dislodged eyes, slashed necks --- their green scrubs are dark from the blood.
 As for those who have made it through the chaotic ICU and surgery, they are looking at days or weeks at the hospital while they recover.
 For me I want the world to act to stop the killing. I don’t know how else to say it."

Report on Convention: Veterans for Peace gives Assad & ISIS a new tool

 "Michael T. McPhearson, Executive Director of VFP, cited the campaign to stop Obama from attacking Syria in the wake of the 21 August sarin attack, saying "We stopped a war with Syria." I imagine that was welcome news to the people that lost their lives to a government air strike in Douma on Sunday.  Even though Obama is now at war with ISIS in Syria, he is careful not to interfere with Assad doing things like he did on Sunday.
 Obama never had any real intention of attacking Assad after the massive chemical murders anyway. Obama only made his "red-line" statement to tell Assad there would be no military intervention from the US so long as he kept killing the old fashion way. All that VFP and others in the peace movement did with their "No War on Syria" protests of September 2013 was to give Obama "Left cover" for his plan to renege on his promise to the Syrian people. 
 Veterans for Peace invited to the convention, as honored guests, three people who acted like Assad's attorneys after the sarin attack. Phyllis Bennis, Ray McGovern and Sy Hersh where all prominent in defending Bashar al-Assad from charges that he was responsible for the chemical murders before he turned over his sarin stockpiles and the OPCW made the match. After the "danger" to their "client" had passed, they dropped interest in finding the real killers. They should have acted like the people's prosecutors in a mass murder case, instead they played the role of the devil's advocate. They should have been out for justice for the victims no matter where it led, but they were only in it to get Bashar al-Assad off.  
 It was obvious Michael hadn't given much thought to the effects of this decision inside Syria where it was cheered by Assad supporters and seen as a knife in the back by his opposition. He wasn't aware of the massive defections from the Free Syrian Army to the jihadists that this precipitated and he hadn't seen the connection between America's reneging on that promise and the rise of ISIS and the fall of Mosul, Iraq in its wake.
For four years now, VFP has campaigned against the imposition of any no-fly zone that would have taken away Assad's ability to bomb his people whenever and however he liked, and for four years now VFP has opposed anyone providing any weapons, including air defense weapons, to the people Assad is bombing. Former US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford was interviewed by the BBC after the Douma airstrike. He said the fact that Assad can bomb civilians with impunity and the opposition has no effective air defense weapons are the result of "a conscious American decision." These are decisions that VFP supports. The real Obama policy has been one of "closet support" for the Assad regime from the beginning. It is a policy that VFP has given "Left" cover to.  By seriously opposing Obama's pretend policy of regime change, VFP has help him sell it despite all evidence to the contrary."

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Facebook is asking me "What's on your mind?"


"Well, what would be on your mind when you spend your day between rivers of blood and rivers of tears, when you wake up to bloodshed and sleep to the wails of the bereaved mothers and daughters.
You feel that this world is a big lie, this humanity is a delusion and those humans are just monsters!
And while you feel how much helpless and defeated you are, you know that this must be a nightmare that you will never wake up from."
Dr. Housam Adnan - Eastern Ghouta after the massacre today.

Former Syrian rebel leader joins exodus to Europe - fleeing government and jihadis alike

"The situation in Syria is very bad, war is eating everything. (The) government destroy everything, buildings, people, they kill children, women — there are no safe areas in Syria."
 Everyone wants to leave Syria. My (home) is the most dangerous city in the world. About 70 percent of the city is destroyed ... In Syria, Al Qaeda want me, Daesh (the Islamic State extremist group), the government — I fought them all. I don't care. Some people are afraid. I'm not.
 It's hard to take up weapons and fight, but we want freedom. When I started fighting my son was 28 days old. Sometimes, he couldn't remember me because I was away fighting. He didn't call me papa, he called me by my name [Laith — Arabic for lion].
 In the first month of revolution, I was injured in the head. I stayed in my house about one month. After that, I came back to fight, and after a year I was wounded again, a government airplane shot a rocket at me.
 Everything in Syria is beautiful. It is destroyed but it is beautiful for me. Our streets our buildings, my friends ... everything is beautiful in Syria. Maybe I will come back after my family is in Holland. I can't leave my country, I have a name in my country. I can't lose it. My friends are still fighting there."

Monday, 17 August 2015

What’s happened since 2013 in Eastern Ghouta?

Mark Boothroyd

 "Since the chemical attacks on August 21st 2013 the inhabitants of Eastern Ghouta have had no respite from the suffering inflicted upon them by the Assad regime. The siege which only parts of Eastern Ghouta had suffered since early 2013, have now become total. Food and medical aid is reduced to a trickle, and falls far short of what is needed to meet the basic needs of the besieged population.
 Hospitals are targeted by regularly by the regime. The Medical Director of the hospital in the town of Erbeen reported they had been attacked 10 times in the previous year, killing two nurses and badly damaging the facility.
 Over 500 civilians have been killed between January and June this year from regime air strikes. Schools, markets, hospitals; the basic services required to sustain life are all attacked. The aim is to make the situation unliveable and break the will of the population to resist the regime.
 The dire situation has lead to the phenomena of ‘bucket children’, groups of children who roam Eastern Ghouta scavenging and begging for food. With their parents unable to provide for them and little or no educational facilities, scavenging has become a way to pass the time, and perhaps secure at least one meal. In the situation of lawlessness and dire poverty, these children suffer high levels of abuse and labour exploitation, as well as the everyday risk of death from snipers, barrel bombs or shells.
 The residents of Eastern Ghouta still participate in the resistance to the regime. The town of Saqba has a Friday demonstration every week without fail. The demonstrations range from a few hundred of several thousand at a time, and are used to demonstrate their opposition to the regime, and to place demands on the armed groups of the opposition.
 The situation in Eastern Ghouta is a scandal and demands action. Join the demonstration on August 22nd to highlight the continued suffering of people in the Ghouta. Across Syria between 650,000 and 1,000,000 are trapped in nightmarish conditions, subject to siege and warfare. They need our support now more than ever. On Saturday 22 August we will mark the second anniversary of the chemical weapons massacre in Ghouta, Syria.
 We will assemble at 2pm in Trafalgar Square, before walking to Downing Street. Please bring flowers to mourn the dead."

Sunday, 16 August 2015

“They raped children right before their parent's eyes”


'At a time when the world is talking about terror and the spread of radical ISIS Islamists in Syria and Iraq, the daily atrocities of Syrian dictator Assad, in whose civil war ISIS first came into being, are being overlooked. Our reporters have interviewed Syrians who themselves took part in the murder machine for years. They recount how children were raped in front of their imprisoned fathers, how they were forced to issue false death certificates for victims of torture, and how Assad is still poisoning his people with chemical weapons. Why are we standing idly by doing nothing as a nation is destroyed?

Former Chief Pathologist Dr. Shahrour cannot understand why no one is stopping the dictator: “After I fled Syria on 14th November 2013, I was invited to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. I testified for an hour about all the massacres that I had witnessed. I have seen more than 3,000 victims of cold-blooded murder. All of them died a senseless death. In The Hague, I handed over a police report by the regime about the poison gas attack in Khan al-Assal, which I had stolen and smuggled out from Syria under my shirt. You can still see the marks left on the document by the cold sweat of my fear. In the top-secret report, the regime itself writes that on the morning of the poison gas attack, several witnesses saw fighter jets in the skies over Khan al-Assal. Only the regime has fighter jets. But no-one wanted to know who was responsible for the poison gas attack.The U.N. just wanted to know if chemical weapons were really used. Of course they were. I've seen bodies turned blue, people foaming at the mouth who have died in agony, choking to death. Our nurses also suffered poisoning from handling the bodies. We had to resuscitate one of them.
 I have taken soil samples in Khan al-Assal. I have collected cigarettes and a dead bird, I have analysed the corpses’ clothes. Where have these documents gone? I handed them all over to the public prosecutor’s office in Aleppo. No-one has told me how much of the Assad government’s report remains at the U.N. I doubt that my complete analyses are there, because the regime is responsible for everything I have witnessed and studied.
 Near the missile impact site, the regime has a military base. Countless civilians were poisoned, but not a single Assad soldier died. Did they use gas masks? Was it just a coincidence? I saw the dead and the injured. There was not a single soldier, just men, women, and children in their pyjamas. How can that be? Why is the U.N. not interested?
 When I was studying, I read about what happened in World War II. Never in my life did I think that I would have to document something similar in my work. I could never have imagined that something like this would happen in the world again. I've seen a women who was dressed for her wedding night. Her body was intact, but her head was smashed in, just a bloody pulp. I put my jacket over her face, it was an unbearable sight. This emotional impulse alone could have cost me my head. For the last 40 years, we have paid Syrian taxes so that Assad can buy weapons. Now he is using these weapons against us. It’s a tragedy.” '

Syria conflict: Marketplace air strikes 'kill 80'

People inspect the damage after what activists said were government airstrikes

"Activists say at least 80 people have died after government air strikes on a marketplace in the rebel-held town of Douma, near Damascus. Around 200 people were reportedly injured in the attack. Government forces have been regularly attacking rebel-held Douma and its surrounding areas in recent months by air raids and helicopter barrel bomb attacks. A Douma-based activist told AP the situation was "catastrophic", adding that clinics in the area were full and many of the wounded were being rushed in civilian cars to other medical facilities since ambulances were overwhelmed. The latest reported strikes coincide with the first visit to the country by the UN humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien since he took up the post in May."
When Assad attacked the eastern Ghouta with sarin gas two years ago this month, one of the excuses given for why he wouldn't have done it was that there were chemical weapons inspectors in the country. In fact Assad has calculated that there is no act of terror that would lead to the international community supporting those he attacks the way Russia and Iran support him, and so far he's been right.

Samar Yazbek: 'Writers need to be part of the change in Syria'

 ' "I can't say there are peaceful protests now because there is no opportunity for them to take place. When you go out to protest and missiles are dropped on you, how do you protest? And how are they going to be peaceful?" asks Yazbek, in reference to Bashar's violent crackdown on the demonstrators.
 "They tried to go out and be peaceful, but they had to take up arms and when people take up arms other people begin to profit and it becomes like an arms trade. Some people want there to be a war so they can invest and become war lords and this is how the revolution was derailed from its democratic path. However, this doesn't mean there aren't still people in Syria that aren't still working towards a democratic path. Just because their voices aren't heard and they're not backed, it doesn't mean there aren't still Syrians who believe in a democratic, civilian Syria.
 On her third crossing, Yazbek helped the wife of a martyr set up a project to sell cleaning products from her home, so she could support herself rather than marrying a Yemeni fighter in exchange for money. "The women are in a bad situation but they are still operating," she says. "I believe that we, the people who left the country - and I'm really upset that we had to leave - have to be a bridge and a voice for the people of Syria. The situation of women is bad and the areas where we operate are still being bombed. They're using weapons and bombs and barrels and missiles and cluster bombs. They just destroy everything."
 In the areas controlled by armed, Islamist militants women have no life she says. "They are no longer a part of the public and they're being subjected to all forms of exploitation and violation. The conditions of the Syrian women are just like the Syrian people but because they're women it's worse. Because they're Islamists they think the women are awrah [should not appear in public]. They treat women inhumanely and they've misinterpreted Islam and made up their own rules. So the women are really suffering."
 Yazbek believes the Obama administration has taken a contradictory position when it comes to intervention in Syria. In August 2013 UN weapons inspectors confirmed the nerve agent sarin was used in Damascus by the Assad regime, a massacre that killed hundreds in the suburbs just outside Damascus. Obama had previously vowed this was a "red line" that would incite US intervention in Syria, but he never acted on that promise.
 "There's Iranian intervention and American intervention but it's all in favour of Assad... don't you think Hezbollah's involvement is intervention?" she asks. "When Turkey allows all the fighters to go through its borders, isn't that intervention? When the armed groups are supported and backed whereas the Free Syrian Army's leaders are assassinated and not given weapons isn't that foreign intervention?"
 Hopefully her book can help, after all "writers need to be part of the change" she tells me; but what does Yazbek want people to take away from it? "I don't want a lot. I want them to know that what happened in Syria was a revolution. It was a popular, civilian, democratic revolution staged by a nation that tried to call for freedom." '