Sunday, 30 December 2012

TURKEY: Syrian refugees

choosing to work risk exploitation

"If Syrians without work permits were to take an employer to court, the judge would likely report them for working illegally."
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Jamal Maarouf first to shoot down

a Syrian regime fighter plane

'Two years after the eruption of the revolution, lots of lives were lost, and the revolution has taken a sectarian aspect that the rebel refuses to accept. 
Jamal Maarouf reassured Syrians that Alawites have not recorded any killing incident. 
“We have not killed Alawites. Al-Fawaa village in the province of Idlib, is a Shiite village, and yet, we have never raided this village or killed their children.”
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FOCUS ON SYRIA: Revolution’s resources remain major problem

"Jabhat al-Nusra has helped on the ground in ways Washington has not: The group cooperates closely with the Free Syrian Army; it has achieved military successes and has delivered critical civilian aid. Second, the U.S. designation failed to distinguish between Jabhat al-Nusra’s core of hard-line ideologues and Syrians who join because Jabhat al-Nusra has money, weapons and proven military successes."

Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Boatman

Russian military presence in Syria poses challenge to US-led intervention*
One might think it would also be a challenge to those who claim that a possible US promise of intervention is more significant than honest-to-goodness actual Russian intervention.
Maybe that ship has sailed. As might some Russian ones soon.
I don't wish I'd been a boatman. Boats are generally a bit confining, and I'm not that enthralled by swimming, still less not swimming.
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Foundation of the Dera’a section

of the Revolutionary Left Current

"The experience of the creation of a rank and file organizational structure which is the foundation of our current’s Dera’a section - an experience appropriate to be generalized to all the governorates of the Syria - is in practice the realization of an attempt to build a political party from the base to the summit, in contrast to the form that predominated during the construction of the traditional parties."

Searching for refuge in a land where there are no safe places

'Syria has become the land of topless minarets and headless little girls. It seems in every video there is always something missing, something broken, something that can never be mended.

 Our country is a landscape of urban and rural rape by the Assad dynasty. They leave the land, like the Mongols did before them, covered in smoke, rubble, and blood.

 The regime redefines barbarianism for the new millennium - cynically cloaking the country in false modernity for decades, funneling international resources for personal gain and glory, then bombing the country to pieces.'

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Syrian women living in Turkey demonstrate against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian Women Decry Exclusion by Islamist Opposition

"Only three of the 60 leading members of the new Syria National Coalition, which was established in November in Qatar, are women. That ratio overlooks the female momentum behind the opposition fighters and blatantly ignores their active participation in the Syrian conflict for the past 21 months."

Friday, 21 December 2012

Omar al-Soma raises the revolution flag in front of the anti-Syrian regime fans in Kuwait. (

Syrian footballer raises revolution flag in official match

'War-torn Syria enjoyed some rare soccer success by beating Iraq 1-0 in Kuwait on Thursday to claim the trophy. “I give this win and this worthy title to the Syrian people. I thank God that we succeeded in bringing happiness to the sad people.” '

Syrian Television Journalist Announces Defection

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 "All my gratitude to the people of Idlib, especially the village of Haas, the battalions of al-Qadissia and the revolutionary heroes there. I was sure that they were not terrorists as the regime claimed. They are the best and most noble people. May God grant them victory."

Thursday, 20 December 2012

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Independent International Commission
of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic  

I am actually trying to look at the UN panel report on Syria, which from today's press reports seems to draw a false equivalence between the violence of the government and opposition, and to locate the problem as one of lack of stability, and proclaiming an inevitably long civil war, typical ways in which the UN serve to protect governments from their people.

This sounds horrific:"There are fewer accounts of Government forces engaging in ground 
actions. Rather they continue shelling areas under anti-Government armed group 
control, endangering civilians who remain in these areas. Interviewees stated that 

joint pro-Government forces are conducting house-to-house searches in 
neighbourhoods used by the opposition such as Daraya in Damascus countryside 
and Mashari’a al-Arbaeen in Hama city."This is why hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled Syria, not because they are caught in crossfire, but because their government is shelling them. And where possible, there is a reign of terror.

But then rather than blame the government for the evolution of the conflict, we get this, "The risk of the Syrian conflict devolving from peaceful protests seeking political reform to a confrontation between ethnic and religious groups has been ever present. As battles between Government forces and anti-Government armed groups approach the end of their second year, the conflict has become overtly sectarian in nature." And then point to a report of shelling coming from "Alawite villages" (awareness of sectarian geography not being proof of its encouragement), one case of government troops being captured and the Alawites among them being executed, and one car bomb in an Alawite district (are the UN panel sectarian for...) without saying anything about who might have been targeted, are not comparable with the government's actions.

In the next section on Minorities there is a worrying report about the abduction of Christian pilgrims, but then we get reports like this one, which I think turned out to be a government attack. So we get a message of chaos everywhere, rather than one of government created divisions, and largely government violence, overwhelmingly that directed against civilians."On 29 October, a car bomb 
exploded outside a bakery in Jaramana, a predominantly Christian and Druze neighbourhood in Damascus."

If the procedures of these councils cannot be ascertained, suggesting that they don't conform to due process, and the resulting killings are summary executions, seems unreasonable. I don't think executing ordinary soldiers, even those that have killed, is right, but that's not the point here. "Investigations indicate that in some instances captured enemy fighters are brought before a Sharia council (al-Lajana al-Shariah) prior to their execution. Neither the substantive nor procedural framework of these councils could be ascertained, with one interviewee positing that, “only those with blood on their hands” are executed. It is a war crime to sentence or execute a person who has 
been captured, has surrendered, is injured or is otherwise hors de combat, without due process."

I should have put the numbers on these. As I understand it, when the government loses control of an area, it reacts with indiscriminate shelling (partly recorded in preceding paragraphs of this report). What exactly are the FSA to do to protect civilians, and why is it not the government to blame?43. "The evidence collected indicates that anti-Government armed groups consistently 
fail to distinguish themselves from the civilian population."

The legitimate aspiration of the Syrian people is to overthrow the government and pick a new one of their own, unencumbered with the spectre of the old rĂ©gime, not to have the UN keep it on life support and poison the transition. If Russia finally realises Assad's number is up, there is a real danger of some such deal being stitched up. Conclusion 
47. "The war of attrition that is being fought in Syria has brought immeasurable destruction and human suffering to the civilian population. As the conflict drags on, the parties have become ever more violent and unpredictable, which has led to their conduct increasingly being in breach of international law. The sole way to bring 
about an immediate cessation of the violence is through a negotiated political settlement which meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people."
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Drogheda man killed fighting regime in Syria

“The sooner Bashar is removed from power the sooner this bloodshed will stop.”

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Putin’s Arms Dealers Are Selling More
Weapons to More Dirtbags Than Ever

"The problem is that a lot of these weapons are going to presidents and potentates that are not so friendly with the United States."
I think a problem is that some of those who object to Russia's massive arms sales don't see a problem when Western powers prop up governments friendly to them with ordnance.
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Aleppo residents, battered by war, struggle to survive

“We left everything to get our dignity. This is the price we have to pay, and it is a cheap price to get our freedom from the tyrant.”

Politics improves Syria vs Jordan football match

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They think the Syrian revolution is over.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

A rebel looks out onto the frontline

Syrian rebels cut off Bashar al-Assad’s escape route

'Sheikh Khaled Kamal was the first religious leader in Latakia city to speak out against the regime when anti-government demonstrations began in the city last year. Now he is based in the rebel held mountain areas, working to keep the revolution from descending into sectarian chaos:
"I am sure there will be massacres of Alawites and bad revenge killings when we reach Latakia. The Syrian regime made us enemies over the past two years.
"I and the other Sheikhs are trying to stop this. But we are not sure that we will succeed".'

Monday, 17 December 2012


War is raging in Aleppo but in a classroom

40km away, there are grounds for hope

Under the Assads, Kurds were forbidden from learning their own language at school, or even from speaking it in the military. The result is a generation of Syrian Kurds, many now in late middle age, who can't write their own language. "Nobody taught us the grammar," Hamar said regretfully. He added: "Before, the Kurds never had any rights. But this revolution began over the rights of citizens."
A family living near Homs mourns a loved one killed in the bombing

How long can the regime keep its grip?

'As the Coalition of the Syrian Left argues, the popular demands for work, a living wage, education, health care, farming assistance, the right to protest, protection from security forces and so on may sound simple, but are actually the basis of the revolution--and accomplishing them will require changing the entire socio-economic structure of Syria, not just changing some figures at the top or the shape of state authority.
These demands may not be accompanied by working class self-activity at the present time. But Syrians are not facing a "normal" situation. They are facing a militarized conflict against a dictatorship that has crushed working class organizations and cloaks itself in leftist rhetoric to protect its profits and accumulation of wealth.'

Irish Syrian fighters pass on lessons of revolution

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 From August. 

 'He frames his reasons for coming to Syria in philosophical terms. “I see my life as being about three things: searching for the truth; defending the weak against injustice and the oppressors; and helping to build peace in the world. The battle here in Syria combines all three.” '

Love Potion Number 9

Head of public relations at Syria’s general intelligence defects
“In this crucial stage of the Syrian revolution, I Alaa Addine al-Sabbagh, the director of public relations divisions at the Syrian general intelligence, and this is my ID; I declare my defection from the Assad criminal regime and joining the great Syrian revolution,” Sabbagh said in the video.
“As my revolutionary brothers know, I was serving the revolution through my work. Today, everyone has to declare affiliation to the revolution of the Syrian people,” he added.
“The Syrian revolution is open to everyone before the regime collapses completely. The regime today is clinically dead. Long Live Syria, free.”

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Dead Beat Descendent

Assad may fall within month: "Farah Al Atasi said she has “confirmed” information that Assad had gone into hiding as the rebels advance towards the capital Damascus.

Atasi, who heads the Washington-based Arab American Centre for Translation and Research, said the rebels had achieved substantial military gains over the past weeks and are on the verge of realizing their goals of toppling Assad."

Saturday, 15 December 2012

A Bread Shortage Is the First Big Test

of a Transitional Council in Aleppo

“We cannot hold elections while people are hungry; we have to solve that problem first,” he said in an interview in this southern Turkish city, where many leaders of Aleppo’s civil society have sought refuge. “People are angry, frustrated and depressed. They can understand how countries like France and Britain and the United States might hold back on the issue of weapons, but not on the issue of bread and diesel.”

Syrian Protesters Slam U.S. Blacklisting of

al-Nusra as Fighting Rocks Capital, North

'Protesters in the Eastern Ghouta region, just outside Damascus and which has come under regular air raids by the regime army, held up a sign reading: "Thank you to all the 'terrorists' in Syria who are fighting Assad."
"We are all Al-Nusra Front," it said, in reference to the jihadist group blacklisted by Washington on Tuesday.
Lines of children and men linked arms and carried the three-starred flag of the revolution as they called for downfall of the regime in the street as shopkeepers looked on.'
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As Assad's regime faces defeat, the prospects of western military intervention increase day by day argues Lindsey German

"Anyone who cares about human rights in the region should see their main aim as stopping western imperialism on its march again."
Lindsey German is still talking rubbish even as Assad is on the verge of succumbing to Syrian revolutionary forces. Anyone on the left should see their main aim as welcoming that. Thank God she left the SWP when she did.