Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Monday, 30 December 2013

Syria: What does the Media mean by "rebel held areas?"

 I don't always do this, often using the common terminology in the media, but is impossible to understand what is going on in Syria if you don't see that it is a revolution against a despot.

 'They call their city a liberated area, because they have removed the regime controls on the ground and are free to organize things the way the local community desires. The regime calls it a "rebel held area" implying that an invading army of foreign jhadists has taken over the city at gun point and the NATO mainstream media agrees because you will never hear them refer to any liberated areas in Syria, they are always "rebel held areas" that need to be brought back under control. The last thing the chiefs of NATO want to see, even in Syria, is autonomous communities running their own affairs. So they spend this fiction of "rebel held areas" which then in turn, allows Bashar al-Assad to blame the wholesale bombing of "rebel held areas" on the "rebels" who are using the otherwise loyal citizens as "human shields." '

Free Syrian Army's loss may have been diplomacy's gain – Malcolm Rifkind

Sir Malcolm Rifkind in the House of Commons.

The key words are, "Syria is a hellhole", and diplomacy is the international community's way of allowing Assad to make it worse.
This is obvious to everyone not on the Left:
"I don't think anyone remotely believed that the consequence of the British decision was that Obama would say he had to go to Congress to seek endorsement for a strike. If you were being logical it was the exact opposite of what he should have thought. What we demonstrated is that if you go to parliament you may not get the answer you want. That opens up the question: what answer did Obama want?"
The final pessimism fits in with a desire not to help the rebels, but to be seen to have tried to do so.
"If the international community had given more practical help to the moderate Syrian forces then the extremists could have been kept at bay. But I regret to say it is probably now too late, and that is a fact that is difficult to ignore."

Image result for Syria Op-Ed: Why Assad and Hezbollah Are in Trouble

Syria Op-Ed: Why Assad and Hezbollah Are in Trouble

"The Syrian regime in April was facing defeat with a steady stream of losses among personnel, territory, and resources and a threatened loss of control over the vital Damascus-to-Homs highway.
The Iranians and Hezbollah did not take half-measures, committing a significant portion of the Lebanese organization’s troop strength to the war. What they expected was quick and overwhelming victory. What they got was a Vietnam-like quagmire, sapping Hezbollah of thousands of its fighters and top echelon commanders.
The extent to which Hezbollah and its partners among Iraqi Shia militias have had to be used, as the vanguard of military operations on behalf of the regime, points to a seriously atrophied and ailing Syrian military. It’s “Weekend at Bernie’s” in Damascus, with Hezbollah propping up Assad’s military power. Should they pull out, the President will face quick collapse.
Recent compilation of slain Hezbollah fighters are in the hundreds, and a full casualty count is likely to be much higher. Their significant losses of manpower losses in the recent battles in Qalamoun and Damacus Rif and their trouble sustaining momentum around Safira and southeastern Aleppo Province point to a force that may still be motivated but is unable to advance."

The Syrian regime wants to crush us; the killing of Dr Abbas Khan is an example of how it is trying to achieve this

 "The purpose of this is to subjugate Syrians and force them back into the embrace of the regime and of the dictatorship and corruption which the Assad regime represents, after a revolution in which Syrians demanded freedom, democracy, justice and equality."

Dispelling the lie that Assad is ‘winning’

Ben Allinson-Davies
"He may be holding out for now, but he is by no means 'winning’. How long this will go on for is uncertain, but it could be for some time yet, if foreign powers continue to dither, instead of providing sufficient help to the Free Syrian Army. "

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Ship Of Fools

 organic cheeseboard said...

 "Nobody is reading this but still, without Aarowatch this had to go somewhere. Nick Cohen's piece today is also the least functional article ever written. 
Apparently Syria is exactly like the Spanish Civil War because it's, um, fascists vs left-wingers, um no actually they're fascists but hey, and we should be happy, oh no wait upset, about the modern-day international brigade (who are actually Islamists) going over there to fight Assad since they'll come back over here and wreak the same kind of carnage as the International Brigade did, um wait that's not right, or something. "*

 I read Aaronovitch Watch** the the last couple of years of its existence (2009-2011), and it provided excellent criticism of the pro-Iraq War arguments. It intelligently dissected the lack of logic that the war's proponents surrounded their arguments, exposed their promises that the finding of WMD would change everything, that the Americans would be greeted as liberators, that an invasion would be better than allowing another minute of Saddam's rule. They ate people like Nick Cohen for breakfast. Now with the Syrian revolution, they just repeat the same arguments without acknowledging any change in the facts. And put their assumptions into the arguments of their opponents, and think that the garbage that results proves Cohen rather than them a fool. Here's what Cohen actually says,

 "In the Spanish Civil War, Britain and France's refusal to help the legitimate government in Madrid repel the attack by General Franco produced the result they most feared. It was not just that Hitler and Mussolini had no qualms about "illiberal intervention" in Spain, any more than Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia have qualms about illiberal intervention in Syria today. The fascist forces were strengthened for the wider conflict of the Second World War, but so too were the communists. Britain would not intervene in Spain in the 1930s because it did not want to help Stalin. Its very inaction helped him. The fact communists were willing to go to Spain and fight bolstered the prestige of communism. At least they preferred fighting to running away, people said.

 I do not know what would have happened if western powers had imposed no-fly zones and safe havens three years ago. But I know al-Qaida is back from the dead and militant Islamists from Britain and across Europe have gone to Syria, as the International Brigades went to Spain, and we will have to have them back one day."

 This seems like an eminently sensible analogy. OC's first substitution, "um no actually they're fascists", seems to apply to all those fighting Assad, and goes without saying is a libel. The second point about International Brigades is a sensible analogy, if the West doesn't help, people they don't like will fill the gap, and OC goes, Islamists aren't Communists exactly, yah boo sucks.

 I think there are problems with the specific military strategy that Cohen proposes. I think there is a wider problem with appealing to Europe or America or the United Nations to bring an end to Assad, only because it is not going to happen. I was thinking today about the lack of specificity with which Cameron and Obama went to their legislatures for support. That wasn't to spring a surprise on Assad, that was to make the votes easy to lose. But still Cohen seems like much more of a friend to Syrians than the leftists who drone on about the dangers of American intervention, when it is clear there is no invasion on the agenda.

 And won't be at this current level of violence. But there is no way for Assad to regain the consent to govern from the vast majority of Syrians, and so his military strategy is to bomb and starve as many of them into death or exile as he can. That is why Syria is a growing source of instability in the region. With the economy on the rocks, with no prospect of anything more than temporary victories, the rĂ©gime grows more desperate, and the massacres escalate. When there are half a million dead and ten million refugees, maybe the Americans will be forced to do something, though I strongly doubt they will ever risk their own troops in combat in Syria. But even if that proved a bloody mess, the anti-war argument would have been discredited by the carnage that had preceded it. If the argument that the FSA needs to be armed, above all with anti-aircraft weapons to stop the bombing, were put more widely, then we wouldn't face a situation where the socialist movement's international policy is likely to be discredited by its inaction over Syria.


Friday, 27 December 2013

Fake Adra massacre photos expose bloody hands on Left

 'These stories give those outside of Syria a good excuse to look the other way and do nothing while the Syrian government slaughters thousands of Syrian civilians. "Its a civil war" and "Both sides commit war crimes, etc."
 This anti-revolution propaganda campaign is being conducted by the Assad Regime because it directly supports its main strategy of wholesale slaughter. Those on the Left that uncritically promote stories like this from RT and SANA aid Assad's main strategy and they have a lot of blood on their hands.'

Blanket Drive For War Torn Syria"This is the coldest time of year," said Mike Batman. He left Syria 32 years ago.
"And the reason I left was because of the dictatorship," he said.
His own brother was a political prisoner for 16 years. The family didn't recognize him when he was finally let go.
"Have you seen those pictures about the holocaust? He look just like one of them," he said.
He stresses that this is a revolution against a dictator, and not a civil war. A distinction to emphasize a fight for freedom.

Defense minister of Syria’s interim

government calls for more aid
'About London’s and Washington’s announcement that they suspended support because of what they called the spread of extremist and militant groups, Mustafa said, “First they have to support the Syrian people. And when they support them, there will be no place for al-Qaeda or any radical regime. Delaying aid, not supporting the Syrian people, and not effectively helping them has led to the emergence of some extremist groups. The Syrian people will not accept extremism. They are moderate. We are confident that we will achieve victory. But Western countries are giving pretexts to shirk their responsibilities in supporting the Syrian people.” '

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Truce near Damascus broken
as warplanes bomb Aleppo
The proposal for peace talks in Geneva in miniature.
' "They opened heavy machine-gun fire without any reason. It means there are people from the regime who don't want the siege on our town to be lifted. They are trying to end the truce in any way possible," Ahmad, a local activist, told AFP via the Internet.
The Syrian Revolution General Commission, a network of activists on the ground, confirmed the fighting, and said the army was sending "heavy reinforcements" towards the town.
On Wednesday rebels raised the national flag above the town in accordance with a ceasefire deal that was supposed to allow food in, but Ahmad said none had arrived.'

Last minute goal helps Qatar edge Palestine 1-0Shitting on their poorer neighbour at the last minute may be a metaphor for something.
Syria aren't defending their title. It won't be a normal country again until Assad is overthrown. If, however, each time he raises the level of barbarity the story is spun as the "threat" (or more insanely, the "actuality"[sic] of same) of Western intervention, he may still be in Damascus for some time.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

What The Future Holds

                                                         With pictures of Syria's past.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Personal Writing #01: Syrian NightmareShiyam Galyon
"This nightmare is worse than anyone could have ever imagined, ever. Anyone following the Syrian Revolution will see it is a true revolution demanded by the people, and rejected by the Assad regime and the UN Security Council. It’s open-season for abuse when a Revolution is denied by the world."

Castle Douglas author Robin Yassin-Kassab returns from war torn Syria Border ITV News

Monday, 23 December 2013


'The latest report from the researchers, to be released today by Citizen Lab and the EFF, notes a dip in new malware campaigns in the aftermath of the Assad regime’s August sarin gas attack in Ghouta, as though the prospect of U.S. intervention was restraining the attackers. As the threat of U.S. reprisals faded in the weeks that followed, the malware kicked up again.'

Don't Get in Bed with Assad"The best counterterrorism strategy remains the empowerment of mainstream Syrian rebels."

Full Report: Writer fundraises for Syrian refugees

"Robin Yassin-Kassab has seen the suffering of Syria's refugees for himself."
He's back on Border TV in a couple of hours to talk about his latest trip. Meanwhile I see these couple of wanky comments on Mike Marqusee's status update, justifying inaction over Syria by claiming that a new Iraq war was being stopped. Corbyn has been one of the best of Labour MPs, and Tariq Ali used to be a revolutionary.
Tariq Ali: "Hell will freeze, Mike, before these jokers reconsider their support for US wars. Cohen is now deeply upset that there has been no intervention in Syria!"
Jeremy Corbyn: "The vote in Parliament in August not to intervene in Syria was of huge significance and may well be the start of a different approach."

Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Syria-bound pile of jumpers made by Doris

Doris knits 400 jumpers for
the children of war-torn Syria

"A publicity-shy 92-year-old woman in Swindon has knitted 400 jumpers for children in Syria. The pensioner, who would like to be known only as Doris, sent her handiwork in to an appeal from charity Hand in Hand for Syria." 

British doctors leave for Syria despite Abbas Khan death

Fatima, the mother of Abbas Khan

 "People have been asking, 'why are we going?' The question is why aren't we doing more? The work of UK charities is a drop in the ocean, but I'd rather be part of that than do nothing. The timing of Dr Khan's death is very deliberate by the regime. They know the holiday season means the aid convoys will be coming and it was a very symbolic act – don't come or look what we will do."

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Image result for Syrian victims want noone with blood on their hands rime allaf

Syrian War Victims Want No
One With Blood on Their Hands

Rime Allaf "Most Syrians are fleeing into neighboring countries in increasing numbers mainly because of the regime’s massive military and air campaign. Yet, ridiculous claims that things will get worse if Assad goes continue to circulate, while planted leaks now test the grotesque idea of his remaining in power even after Geneva.
We don’t need a referendum to know that most Syrians want the carnage to stop immediately. Most realize, however, that violence won’t end if the Assad clan is allowed to stay as a de facto winner, continuing to impose collective punishments on those guilty of nothing more than civil disobedience or intellectual opposition. This would push armed opposition even more to a “death or liberty” mode, straight into the arms of better-organized extremists."

Art, revolution and Ali FerzatHe maintains hope for a breakthrough his country and that the essence of the revolution will eventually emerge from the distortions.
“Let me put it this way. ... For 50 years, Syria has been similar to a deserted home with broken doors and shattered windows. If you open the water tap of a deserted home, what you get at first is all the dust and dirt. But if you keep it open for a while, the clean water will eventually come down [out] of it.”

Friday, 20 December 2013

Citizen journalism image from Aleppo Media Centre of damage from barrel bombs

Syria conflict: Barrel bombs
show brutality of war
"The Syrian government's use of these types of munitions against its own population in rebel-held areas is a measure of the brutality of the conflict."
No, it's a measure of the brutality of the Syrian government. The rebels don't have an airforce, and their attacks on civilians have been few and abhorred by other rebels, while attacks on civilians have been the Syrian government's m.o. This is one reason it is idiocy to suppose that rebels might have carried out the chemical attack in August, offensive idiocy to those Syrians at the sharp end of their government's terror.

An unidentified man is blindfolded and arrested by Syrian rebels in January 2013

Syria 'abducting civilians to spread terror', UN saysThankfully this report, unlike many, doesn't allow mention of the human rights violations committed by jihadis to obscure the truth that the overwhelming threat that has caused millions to flee is the Syrian government.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

U.S. inaction in Syria could be far more costly than intervention

Image result for the washington post

 "The one advantage of inaction seems to be the ability to disclaim responsibility: We didn’t break it, so we don’t own it. Even that benefit, however, may prove transient. Already the United States is the largest donor of refugee aid. As misery spreads and anti-American radicals plant roots, the Obama administration, or its successor, may find that the costs of non-involvement far exceed those that would have come with timely and measured intervention."

 I don't personally see the risk in option (a), Arm the Moderate Rebels. And a bit of extremism in defence of liberty is no vice. Barry Goldwater said that. He was a very conservative US politician.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Cradle Of Filth

"Galloway knows Assad, and Assad quite likes Galloway."
Robert Fisk being interviewed by the BBC just now about the British doctor murdered in Syria. He reckons that Assad wanted him released, and so there must be a plot among his officers to thwart him.*
Fisk said that as Dr. Khan was strangled in his cell, it may be hard to find out if he was murdered or did it himself. Obviously if the Syrian government does the investigation. You can usually tell the difference, suicides leave a different pattern of ligature marks from hanging, and from the quality of their lies over the last couple of years, I don't believe the Syrian secret police will have put in the effort to even try to do this convincingly in the face of a proper inquiry.
Fisk ended by saying that the only way we may know the truth is if the revolution is succesful, but for the time being, Assad seems to be winning. That doesn't seem to be the case either.**
*"That the king can do no wrong is a necessary and fundamental principle of the English constitution." - Sir William Blackstone
Dr Abbas Khan pictured with his son Abdullah

British surgeon 'murdered by Syrian regime'"More than 1,000 detainees are believed to have died in custody in Syria since the uprising against Assad began in March 2011, according to Amnesty International, which says most were from the effects of torture or other ill-treatment."
We are often told both sides are as bad as each other, and it just isn't true. The rebels don't bomb hospitals, bakeries and homes.

Commentary on a Patrick Cockburn commentary
Louis Proyect

"Does anybody still believe that there were plans afoot to “replace” Assad?"

Probably the people who still aren't sure that he used chemical weapons.