Saturday, 4 May 2013

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Israeli warplanes launch

air strike inside Syria

1. It’s best to be suspicious of what the US and Israelis say.
2. We do seem to be getting every report of Israeli strikes in Syria. Understandable, given the circumstances, but unlike Israeli attacks in Gaza, or drone attacks in Pakistan; which only get fully reported in the left-wing media.
3. So it’s probably best to think that this is what it seems, a series of one-off attacks to stop heavy weaponry getting into the hands of Hezbollah. Given that those weapons are more likely to be used against Syrians, even civilians, than against Israel at the moment, I don’t think many Syrians will be too worried about it.
4. If Israel had wanted to support the opposition, there is all sorts of weaponry they could have provided. They aren’t about to intervene in favour of the opposition.
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Syrians flee 'massacres'

in Baniyas and al-Bayda

"Hundreds of Syrians have fled coastal areas where activists say government forces have carried out massacres in a campaign of sectarian cleansing.
Hundreds of families are reported to have fled Baniyas southwards towards the city of Tartus, but activists say they have been blocked from taking shelter there."
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"James Harkin's been on Turkey's border with Syria and tells a tale of the actress who couldn't stop crying and the boy who's made friends with a turtle."
A Free Syrian Army fighter in Aleppo

Syria: a roadmap to peace

The lesson of history for dealing with Syria in 2013 is not to let David Owen anywhere near it.* But he may become beloved of those who want to stop the revolution arming itself, "Sending arms is unlikely to provide a solution."
*"He implies that his Plan cannot have been responsible for fomenting inter-ethnic war, because the provinces did not have ethnic labels anyway. 'We were careful he says, 'not to label any provinces Serb Croat or Muslim, contrary to the impression given by some newspapers and commentators.' This is extraordinarily disingenuous. It is true that ethnic names were not formally added to the cantons on the official map issued with the Plan; but, as Lord Owen well knows, all parties to the negotiations understood that the basis of the Plan's territorial division was primarily ethnic, and it immediately became the normal practice of all parties to refer to the provinces envisaged by the Plan as Serb, Croat or Muslim."[]

Disabled Syrian rebel returns to the front line

“I cannot forget the immense sacrifices ordinary Syrians have made for this revolution – people have lost their homes, their families,” he said, sitting on a rock near the brigade headquarters.
“That cannot be overlooked just because I’ve lost my foot. The fight must go on until Assad is overthrown.”

Friday, 3 May 2013

Samar Yazbek

The Syrian revolution has changed me as a writer

"On 3 March 2011, I was in Syria: I witnessed peaceful protesters being killed as they offered an olive branch to the regime, who responded with murder, bombings, torture and mutilation. I saw people protesting for justice, freedom, democracy, and the Shabiha militia, security forces and army responding by killing protesters, disfiguring their corpses, laying siege to whole towns.

They made threats against the families of activists; they arrested doctors seen helping the wounded; they worked to sow enmity between people. They wanted to create their own anarchy. If soldiers refused to kill the protesters the security forces would get rid of them once and for all. They had no choice but to desert. I was witness to the fact that the revolution did not take up arms voluntarily."

Syrian refugees riot over Jordan camp plight 

Why are there millions of Syrian refugees? Because of Assad's actions and Western inaction. There was another report on al Jazeera this morning about Lebanon, with one kid living in a cemetery in the Beka'a Valley.
Those who spend their time worrying that President Obama will do something should really worry about what is happening while he does nothing.

Thursday, 2 May 2013


Aleppo (Salaheddin): May 1, 2013

An Assadist tank turns it’s cannon toward these FSA fighters and fires as it attempts to storm the Salaheddin neighborhood in Aleppo. Vastly outgunned, the FSA still prevails. The FSA has an unlimited number of people willing to fight for a free Syria since they have popular backing. Whereas Assad’s forces have a finite and dwindling army that has become almost entirely sectarian and almost fully supported by the Iranian regime and Hezbullah mercenaries.
A poster from Zabadany, Damascus (Syria) in commemoration of Labor (Workers) Day:
“On this Labor Day we salute grave diggers, the only people who are still in business.”
Thanks @omarsyria

A poster from Zabadany, Damascus

On this Labor Day we salute grave diggers, the only people who are still in business.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

insufficient respect

"If it prevails, the Syrian uprising will be the first truly popular revolt to succeed since 1789 - the first since the dawn of the industrial age. Unlike the Russian or Chinese or Vietnamese or Cuban revolutions, it is not the design or possession of some élite vanguard. Unlike the 19th century revolutions of Italy or Latin America, it did not coalesce around the leadership of, quite literally, a man on horseback. It did not arise under the aegis of a military hero like Turkey's Kemal Atatürk. Unlike the Tunisian revolt, it did not succeed because the régime collapsed. Unlike the Libyan revolution, it did not rely on outside participation. Unlike the Egyptian revolution, it did not leave much of the old order in place, so that nothing happens without at least the passive approval of the armed forces."

Hezbollah’s mad gamble in Qusair

"There are reports that Hezbollah has taken significant losses. If so, the Shiite community will accept this for a time, but unless Hezbollah can achieve its objectives relatively quickly, discontent will rise if the war in Syria turns into a grinding campaign that provokes many more Lebanese casualties."
I wonder if this will provoke demands within Hezbollah for a change in the leadership.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Long Distance Runaround

President Obama: "We are not simply bystanders in Syria."



"It's not a class uprising in the sense that it has any form of clear-cut class consciousness. But the uprising started with a peripheral movement in poor rural towns, and the poorest, most downtrodden sections of the population were the insurgency's initial force. The bourgeoisie as a whole is very afraid of the whole movement and the chaos that it creates. So there is no doubt that the uprising is a popular movement. But because of the historical failure of the left in the region, we have a massive uprising without any capable left-wing leadership. It's a very decentralised type of uprising with all sorts of groups waging a common fight against the regime."

Syrian regime's core

supporters begin to drift away

"Ms. Mrie, a liberal Syrian, says she is far from conservative, but that she she often interacts with members of the Syrian opposition described as extremists without any problems."
Activists rally in Kafranbel, Syria. (Courtesy - Shiyam Galyon)


“This isn’t a Sunni, Christian, or whatever revolution. This is a Syrian revolution. This is a poor people’s revolution.”

Monday, 29 April 2013

Rebel in Aleppo

Syria: Proxy war heats up

as endgame inches closer

Despite the title, there are some nuggets of truth in Jim Muir's piece.
"Al-Qaeda in Iraq announcing that the Nusra Front was one of its branches, and that the two were merging into a single Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (the Levant).
The Nusra Front, jockeying for position in the motley array of Syrian opposition forces and trying to win hearts and minds on the ground, clearly saw this as a potential kiss of death.
Many of their followers are believed to have joined up opportunistically because the front had more resources and experience than the other groups.[This cuts across the idea that the US is providing arms, or even encouraging others to do so]
Well-placed diplomats believe Hezbollah is also providing part of the regime's inner praetorian guard, as some of the big Alawite clans have become so alienated by the level of casualties they have suffered that their members are no longer regarded as fully reliable.[This cuts across the idea that a sectarian regional war is due to break out if Assad falls, it is his sectarian state that is falling apart]

Sunday, 28 April 2013

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Syria descending into hell aided

and abetted by the US and its allies

"The ominous quote from a senior British official in the Financial Times today that 'It is increasingly likely that sarin was used by the Assad regime' demonstrates that a case is being put together to justify overt military intervention on top of the widespread but unofficial intervention that already exists."
Lindsey German is utterly full of shit. She used to be a revolutionary socialist, but this article doesn't display either attribute. It isn't ominous that Assad may have used sarin, in addition to the more ordinary weapons he's used to kill 60,000 Syrians in the last two years. No, it's her fantasy that the West is going to ride in to destroy Assad, just like her fantasy that their (actually non-existent) supply of weapons to the rebels is to be opposed, while the tonnes of weaponry the régime gets from Russia each week are of no interest to her. And then she just lapses into incoherence:
"The Western powers have not yet been able to intervene openly in military terms but they are doing their best to ensure that the bloody war continues. Their aim is regime change and the removal of Assad to be replaced by a pro Western government. But it would appear that in the absence of such an outcome, the anti Assad governments are prepared to do their part in continuing and worsening the war which has already brought so much misery to ordinary Syrians, many of whom are now refugees."