Saturday, 22 June 2013

Putin's pupils

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A successful uprising in Syria would give other movements new courage
"Among the Western elites the criticism of Assad's methods has become quiet. Even the last intelligence chief has now become clear that an outgoing of the rebel "regime change" would not lead to a pro-Western puppet regime. Too are the democratic institutions of the revolution, the local coordination committees. For strong is the aversion to Western policy in the region, to support Israel against the invasion of Iraq, against tradition, to keep agreeable dictators. Every democratic government in Syria will be pro-Palestinian and anti-imperialist."

The ‘let-it-burn’ strategy in Syria

Syrian government soldiers stood in front of the clock tower flying the national flag in the main square of the city of Qusayr, in Syria’s central Homs province, on June 5, after the army claimed it had seized total control of it and the surrounding region.

This is quite perceptive.
"There is, of course, a danger that Iran and Hezbollah might enable Assad to suppress the Syrian uprising, thereby imposing their sway from Lebanon on the Mediterranean coast, through Syria and Iraq, and eastward to the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan. But for now, they are spending down Iran’s dwindling reserves, while bleeding and being weakened in a war that could persist for many more years. And though Obama and his advisers appear understandably worried about Al Qaeda affiliates taking an ever-greater role in the Syrian revolution, those jihadists are mostly foreigners and would stand little chance of actually seizing power after the Assad mafia is overthrown."
This is a pernicious reading of the same facts, twisted 180⁰.
"On the other hand, the U.S. cadre of pundits, politicians and leaders found itself stymied. They typically seek regime change through two complementary scenarios: achieving a state of revolution via compliant media and social media, which manufactures consent and lays the ground for intervention.
UNSC resolutions on Syria repeatedly stumbled on Chinese and Russian vetoes, excluding UN-sanctioned intervention. Syria’s strong air defence, as well as the ‘no boots on the ground’ pledge kept America at bay. Washington was left to lead from behind, endorsing and backing a Qatari scenario increasingly appearing as a first stage intervention whose only goal was to create chaos and give America’s and Israel’s hawks time to ponder options for a large scale intervention, while Syria burns."

Lina Sergie

"So proud to be in the capital of Syrian wit next to an awesome poster written by the great Robin Yassin-Kassab. I  Kafranbel and its amazing people."

Friday, 21 June 2013

Guns Of Brixton

Syrian rebels claim delivery of new weapons

Free Syrian Army says latest shipment from allies can change the course of the battle.

'He did not specify what weapons had been received or when they had arrived, but added that another shipment was expected soon.
"The weapons will be used for one objective, which is to fight the regime of Bashar al-Assad," Muqdad insisted. "They will be collected after the fall of the regime, we have made this commitment to the friends and brotherly countries." '

Give Us A Break

Robin Yassin-Kassab:

"Before I went into the liberated areas I imagined the regime had been replaced by heavy-handed militias. It's not like that at all. No checkpoint stopped us. The men with guns were protectors, not oppressors. At least in the areas I visited, the people are ruling themselves. Someone with us has just left Damascus, where everyone is off the streets by 8pm. In liberated Kafranbel people walk the streets and play in pool halls at one in the morning. Even in Saraqeb, supposedly controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra, it's not like the Taliban's Afghanistan but like free Syria. we (one of us an uncovered woman) stopped to eat there - men, women and children were going about their business normally. Crumpled buildings and walls everywhere cratered with bullet holes show how 'secular' and 'resistant' the previous regime was."

Kafranbel A Quick Demonstration Against Assad

"We are so sorry that Tony Soprano is dead. We wish Assad, the Syrian Mafia boss had died instead."

Surface To Air

Before anyone worries that WW3 is going to be set off by the blowing up of chemical weapons before Assad can use them (those worrying about "increased US belligerence towards the al-Assad regime", when the US hasn't fired a single shot, seem mightily unconcerned about actual death of actual Syrians), should note that chemical weapons aren't like nuclear or biological bombs, outside of the immediate time and place, they aren't that dangerous.
I don't think the Israelis are going to endanger their co-operation with Russia* by attacking their ships, unless they were pretty sure the Russians wouldn't retaliate. It is to believe in a lot of ifs to suppose that events will get worse if Syrians are helped, what is fairly certain is that hundreds of thousands will die , and the country will be ripped apart, if the rebels don't get weapons.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Red Dawn

When the Americans were trying to overthrow the Sandinistas, I don't recall being told that the problem was that the Russians and Cubans were supplying some weapons to the Sandinistas (not that the Americans had done to the Somoza government whose airforce bombed its own people), and that this would provoke the United States to escalate the conflict. Or that some among these "Sandinistas" held strong religious views, which they might export round the world.
Maybe now there is a conflict in Syria, I'm listening to different people.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Mortar rounds belonging to Syrian opposition forces (photo: The New York Times - Tyler Hicks)

The adventures of a Libyan
weapons dealer in Syria

Not just al-Qaida, but Manchester property developers. Is there no end to the evil that is the Syrian revolution?

'After fleeing Libya in his 20s, Haroun established himself as a property developer in Manchester. After about two decades in the British city, he returned to Libya in 2011 to fight in the revolution, where he became a prominent rebel commander.

He says he sends aid and weapons to help Syrians achieve the freedom he fought for during the Libyan revolution.
He and his associate travelled with their first successful delivery in August over the Syrian border to ensure it reached its destination. They were appalled by the horrors witnessed there.
"Anyone who saw what I did in Syria would do the same thing," said the associate.
"The water is so polluted you wouldn't even wash your hands with it. People have no clothes. I saw three births with no doctors present. People are dying without medication." '

The Changing Importance of Qusayr, Syria in the Media

'A year ago, 23 April 2012, when Qusayr was a liberated city, McClatchy called Qusayr "this all but abandoned city that once was home to 35,000 people near the border with Lebanon."
Now, 5 June 2013, after Assad had taken it back, it is "the strategic city of Qusayr in central Syria." '

Noam Chomsky & John Passant on Syria

 'Noam Chomsky was recently interviewed by Maha Zaraket of al akhbar english. He is saying here what I have been saying for a long time now, namely that the US, NATO and Israel are not on the side of Assad's opposition in Syria and in fact, favor keeping Assad, but since now it is Noam Chomsky saying it, maybe more people will listen.“Whoever expects a “pure” social revolution will never live to see it. Such a person pays lip-service to revolution without understanding what revolution is.” '

-- Vladimir Lenin on Self-Determination, 1916"

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Wednesday's Times front page - "West tries to engineer a coup in Damascus" 
Syrians need a revolution rather than a coup.

Samar Yazbek: "Syrians refuse to remain slaves to the Assad regime"

Samar Yazbek on the devastation in Syria:

"I can no longer talk about freedom of expression, or even allow myself to think about anything other than the mangled corpses of children being pulled out by their mothers’ hands from under the rubble of homes destroyed by Assad’s bombs."

Robin Yassin-Kassab:
"Fools can write all they like about compromise with the child-killers, peace conferences, negotiations and so on. half a minute inside Syria is long enough to show anyone with a brain stem that such talk is entirely and absurdly irrelevant."
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'Take Your Portion': A Victim

Speaks Out About Rape in Syria

'During dark sessions over a period of 38 days, guards whipped her with a wire, strung her alternatively by her wrists and feet, and injected the crook of her elbow twice a day with a kind of drug that made her feel high, she says. The things Abdulrahman recalls the men saying as they allegedly raped her multiple times were so filthy she is loath to repeat them -- "it's too dirty and too low" -- although she remembers them saying, "Here is the freedom you wanted" (a phrase 
similar to ones other women have reported hearing while being raped in Syria). And she can summon up at least one face. And a couple of names.
"We were all blindfolded and raped and we would not know who was raping us," she says, tearing up for the first time in our interview. Before being blindfolded, she could see what she calls the "boss" sit in front of them, teaching them "exactly what to do and say to us."
"They were ordered to take this one, to take 'your portion,'" she says. "And they would take it."
The horrors she describes have positioned her to become the face of powerful women survivors in Syria. She says she has fought and killed; she also says she has done it for her country. She says she has endured torture and violation but that she is "capable of standing up against oppression." '
Taliban spokesman Mohammed Naeem, second right, at opening of Doha office. 18 June 2013

US and Taliban to open

direct peace talks in Qatar
If they don't help the Syrian rebels now, they'll be chatting with Jabhat al-Nusra in a few years.

John McCain - US Must Give Heavy Weapons To Syria Rebels And Take Out Assad's Airforce
Part 2 in People I Wouldn't Normally Credit With A Progressive Opinion. When I heard it mentioned that McCain was in favour of the use of cruise missiles I thought that sounded a very bad idea, it turns out he just wants them used to crater the runways of the government's airforce.

The case for arming Syrian rebels

Financial freedom

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Imperialism, counterhegemonic
blocs, and the Syrian revolution

"To some extent, the “plague on both your houses” stance relies on evidence carefully sifted so as to put the rebels in the worst possible light. The most recent instance was the case of a fifteen-year-old boy being executed by jihadists for blasphemy. Before that there was Abu Sakkar, the fighter who took a bite out of a dead Baathist soldier’s heart. Whenever such violations of human rights take place, the entire revolutionary movement suffers collective punishment. By the same token, MIG or Scud missile attacks on working-class tenements in Aleppo or Damascus are considered normal activities for a government under attack."

Monday, 17 June 2013

This video is no longer available because the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated


Aleppo (Salah Al Din): June 14, 2013 - Another Friday of protests across Syria. These brave men and women protest on the front line in Aleppo’s Salah Al Din neighborhood. Despite everything, they still come out to the streets to protest, as they had when this revolution first begun.
There are some graphic pictures on the site if anyone wants to know what state mass murder looks like.
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Iran vote: Rouhani vows

transparency on nuclear issue

'Efforts to end continuing fighting in Syria and restore stability must rest with "the Syrian people." '
Not that gung-ho.

'I Don't Know What Took So Long'

'I feel hopeless and helpless. I don't know what took so long" for the U.S., Kholaki said. "Is that because we don't have oil in the region, or is it because Israel wants Assad in power?"
Israel, a close U.S. ally, has repeatedly expressed concerns that a change in regime in Syria could further harm Arab-Israeli relations and regional stability.'
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Syria Bomb Kills At Least
10 Soldiers In Damascus

'The Syrian pound plunged to a new low on Monday, apparently over news of the U.S. decision to arm the rebels, diving from 170 pounds a dollar to 210 in a single day.

Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi rushed to calm nerves, saying the government has large reserves of foreign exchange and would put in place a package of economic measures to enhance the economy.
The premier referred to the support of "friendly countries," including Iran, citing its willingness to finance Syrian imports and requirements of the industrial and agricultural production.
The governor of the central bank of Syria, Adib Mayaleh, told reporters that the bank would continue its policy of intervention to prop up the value of the pound.'

Note 2/4/15, the original link, which also started off with the headline, "Hezbollah Is Taking Prominent Role", also appears to have had a photo with this tagline, 
"Syrian rebels stand on top of a tank they took after storming the Iskan military base in Idlib province, northern Syria. After weeks of fighting the rebels captured tanks as well as other vehicles and artillery in the area."

Saudi Arabia ‘supplying

missiles’ to Syria rebels

There were reports last year of Syrians getting beards in order to get weapons off the Saudis. There was an American General, Kimmet I think, on the BBC last night saying the Americans weren't worried about adding to the weaponry in the Middle East, as the region is awash with the stuff, and if extremist terrorists (Cameron's phrase) want to get hold of them they will. Douglas Alexander is worried that the weapons that people  are fighting to get hold of in Afghanistan are the same anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons the Syrian rebels need.
Russia is a bully. Of course they are going to threaten retaliation if their client is threatened. That's always the way when they want to stop a revolution.

Syria Revolution: Why Is

Russia Supporting Syria?

"I think Russia is going to regret this, Marten said. It's going to cost Russia a lot of its reputation, not primarily in the United States but in the rest of the Arab world as well."
From February last year.

Don't Talk

Boris Johnson: "Don't arm the Syria maniacs."
He can fucking talk.
MEMBERS OF A Syrian opposition group are seen on the front lines in Aleppo

'Israel, Hezbollah, Iran are working with Assad'

"Despite previous media reports that last week's airstrikes in Syria were an Israeli initiative to aid rebel forces and stop Hezbollah from helping Assad attain destructive weapons, Saleh apparently toldZaman that these reports were false.

“The opposition was going to take over arms, so Israel attacked. There is evidence pointing to this," he reportedly said." 

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Sarah Palin: Let Allah sort Syria out

Syrian civil war: Sarah Palin

says ‘let Allah sort it out’

"The former governor of Alaska said both sides were slaughtering each other and shouting ‘Allah akbar’.
She continued: ‘Until we have a commander in chief who knows what he is doing… let Allah sort it out!’ "
Dr Sameh Otri

Refugee Week: Three Syrian

stories from Eye on Wales

"When I returned I heard that the Assad regime had attacked that camp, with aircraft and shelling.
(For the second trip to a school) we collected art materials for educational workshops. We used to go early in the morning to 7pm, trying to draw a smile on the children's faces.
We asked them to draw whatever they think. They drew tanks and people fighting. Then we gave them a star or a heart or a butterfly - nice images - to change it.
It is a platform to talk about their experience. They talk about how they lost their mother or father or how their brothers are still inside Syria.
They all have stories about how they saw death in front of them."

Yo Jordan look, they named a country after you in Europe!

Hell Is Other Countries: Sarin
In Syria, A New Man In Iran

"Ah yes, the slippery slope argument, so beloved of — depending on your perspective — “cautious pragmatists” or “do-nothing weasels.” (There always seems to be a “quagmire” at the bottom of these slippery slopes, possibly because of all the runoff.)"

ICSR Insight: European Foreign Fighters in Syria

"The Syrian government has – at various times and for different reasons – claimed that many fighters that are involved in the current conflict are foreigners. Our numbers do not support this assertion.
Even when juxtaposing the most liberal estimate for the number of foreign fighters over the course of the entire conflict (5,500) with the most conservative estimate for the current size of rebel forces (60,000), foreigners would represent less than 10 per cent. The actual figure is likely to be lower."
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"There was some suggestion that both sides were using chemical weapons."
It's a lie. Lindsey German ignores the Russian arms, and suggests that any help to the rebels would be to rerun the Iraq war. She could at least be honest and say she prefers Assad to the rebels.

1956, and Hungary is shooting up the agenda. The announcement by the Eisenhower government that it will arm sections of the opposition is guaranteed to escalate the war and to create tensions with its traditional Cold War rival Russia, which remains a close ally of the Kádár government. It is the duty of socialists to oppose this, while any action by the Russians should not be our concern in the West.

Assad Loses Tank In Deir Ezzor In Clashes With Free Syrian Army 17/12/12

What the Free Syrian Army needs is anti-tank and aircraft missiles, which would stop the Syrian government strategy of pulverising liberated areas into dust. With them the war could be over in a relatively short time, so it is probably up to those fearing helping the rebels to say how such weapons will cause problems down the line, or how the Russians could up the ante. Nuking Aleppo probably isn't a worthwhile option.

Bashar Al-Assad: Either Help the Sunnis Win in Syria, Or Risk a Global Sunni-Shiite Battle

 'It is apparent that Hezbollah’s presence and zeal for supporting Assad has been contingent on the fact that President Obama has been repeatedly sending the signal that he was not willing to back up America’s red lines and was not committed to do what was necessary to produce victory for the opposition and save Syrian lives.'

Generally even more true of Russia, they are happy to be there while they get paid for their arms and lose zero troops, but they are never going to risk WW3 over somewhere not even in their near abroad.

Seventy-one Syrian army

officers defect to Turkey: official

Assad can't win. The longer the conflict is allowed to drag on, the more Syrians he will kill before he falls.

Syrians welcome U.S. help,

but they want big guns

"We hope that arming us results in us immediately resisting the assaults of the regime and Hezbollah militia on civilian areas," said Louai Mikdad, a Free Syrian Army spokesman based in Turkey. "Thousands of civilians might be killed due to the regime's use of their air force, ballistic missiles and chemical weapons."