Saturday, 29 June 2013

Image result for qunfuz The Umawi mosque in Aleppo has burnt

Burning the Mosques

Robin Yassin-Kassab

"What’s happening is no secret. The shabeeha write it on the walls: “Al-Assad or We’ll Burn the Country.” The world worries about Islamists, about hypothetical future persecutions, about the chess game between America and Russia, Israel and Iran. Meanwhile the country burns. The people and their history burn."
Reem Salahi Headshot

The Syrian Revolution Is Not Dead

"How can you call this a war?" asked a young Syrian man. "We don't have an army. We are not trained and our weapons are mostly stolen from government troops. A war necessarily means two sides fighting one another. We are civilians fighting the State. This isn't war, this is self-defence. This is a Revolution."

Friday, 28 June 2013

Rebels seize Deraa army post

in battle for cradle of Syria revolt

Hezbollah, Iran, Russia and the Queen of Sheba aren't all-powerful then.
"Daraa is an ancient city dating back to the Canaanites. It was mentioned in Egyptian hieroglyphic tablets at the time of the Pharaoh Thutmose III between 1490 and 1436 BC. It was known in those days as the city of Atharaa. It was later mentioned in the Old Testament as "Edre'i," the capital of Bashan where Moses defeated the city's king, Og."

From The Onion

Image result for the onion syria running dangerously low civilians

Report: Syria Running Dangerously

Low On Civilians To Oppress

Alqusoor neighborbood in #Homs #Syria courtesy @homsae

Alqusoor neighborbood in #Homs #Syria

"The policy of the government, as expressed by the Governor Ahmad Munir, is not to storm areas in Homs it does not control unless other options have been exhausted. He said he was trying to deal with each case “without a special military operation”. "
Bit of a gullible fellow, that Patrick Cockburn.

Further bullshit at Counterpunch on the Mediterranean gas reserves:
"It appears that Damascus will soon finally feel the full impact of the Western fist. Turkey and Israel will be key partners in this effort. Gas may be the reason why."

Al Qaeda claim responsibility for ‘devastating’ spending review

Al Qaeda spending review

 “Let this be a stark warning to the Godless infidels in the West. We will come to your countries and remove your benefits and slash your public services in the name of Allah.”

 Piece of piss after organising America's proxy wars in the Middle East.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Syrian journalist Massoud Akko helps journalists and citizens get their images and reports from Syria's civil war to the outside world.

Syrian journalist helps reporters tell stories from his homeland

Massoud Akko escaped Syria in 2010. He now trains journalists working in conflict zones and reports on the state of freedom of expression in Syria.

'Most of the atrocities against journalists, Akko says, have been committed by the Assad regime. “They use snipers to kill people they suspect are reporting. Anyone who’s using a mobile phone to capture pictures or video is at risk. In some cases they attack the homes of journalists and their families.” '

Scenes of destruction: Syrian mosques leveled after months of combat

"As has happened often, after regime forces withdrew, they pounded the area with artillery and airstrikes. For two days, they fired shells at the mosque. A series of videos on YouTube show explosions against the minaret as they score direct hits. A YouTube video dated April 13 shows the top half of the minaret topple in a cloud of dust."
Syrian rebels on patrol when they controlled Qusair

Will the U.S. hijack Syria's revolution?

'As Yusef Khalil argues, "winning the struggle purely by military means is highly improbable," given the regime's superior firepower.'
And so Lee Sustar condemns the US for everything but failing to arm Syrian rebels, and claims the US is trying "to channel the struggle for Syria's future into a sectarian war". Disappointing article.

An Ingenious Plan: How the CIA Vets the Syrian Rebels

Syrian rebel: Yes, I have some Yemeni friends, they speak very highly of you. 
CIA Agent: Yemeni friends? Al-Qaeda? 
Syrian rebel: Man, you’re obsessed. You can’t go around stereotyping people like that, what do your human resources people think? No, we met at a conference. 
CIA Agent: ok, never mind. I think we’re just about finished here. Do you promise if we give you training and weapons not to use them against the USA, its citizens, armed forces or franchises? 
Syrian rebel: Of course man, I love KFC.
CIA Agent: Great, sign here please.
Syrian rebel: Allahu Akbar, finally a result.
CIA Agent: What’s that?
Syrian rebel: It’s just an expression. Relax.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Image result for bbc world have your say syria's civil war

Q. It is hard to see, isn't it, a way to see the rebels defeat the army combined with Hezbollah's might?
A. Robin Yassin-Kassab: When we talk about support, the resistance, the Syrian people, the revolution, has almost no real support, despite all the rhetoric; but what it does have is the force of numbers. This is being presented sometimes as if Syria is split 50/50, and there are a lot of people who are worried about what's coming next, about the extremism that's been brought up by the traumatization of the country; but it's only a very small minority that is actually supporting the régime. So, by force of numbers, I think it will be impossible for the régime to re-capture what it's lost, even with the help of the crack forces of Hezbollah.
Hezbollah have fought Israel. They didn't actually do as well as we expected them to do, in the battle for Qusayr; because Qusayr is a small rural town, and it took them weeks to dislodge poorly armed local people. The reason for that - Hezbollah* should know this - Hezbollah did very well fighting Israel when Israel invaded Hezbollah's own turf. When Israel came into Lebanon, Hezbollah was very good at defending. Here they've gone into the mode of attacking, crossing their border, being aggressive another Arab people. This is terrible for the Syrians, but in the long term it's even worse for Hezbollah. Despite them being from the minority Shia sect, which some sectarian minded Sunnis in the Arab world don't like, nevertheless, a couple of years ago Hezbollah was wildly popular throughout the Arab world, including in Syria. In 2006, a million Lebanese Shia refugees, Hezbollah's people if you like, came to stay in Syria, they stayed in people's houses, it wasn't the Syrian state that looked after those people, it was ordinary people, including in Qusayr.
*Or Trotskyists who have followed the debate on why it was wrong for Soviet Russia to invade Poland in 1920. Or followers of Chairman Mao, "The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea."

Syria: Worse than Agony - International

"In Assad’s Syria 2013, the many horrible accounts oozing from military intelligence branch 215 make it qualify to be the Syrian version of room 101. In branch 215, anything could happen to you. Detainees are...Those who do emerge are mostly completely different from the people who went in; they’ve been scarred for life."

In Syria’s Villages, Regime

Shells Aim for Civilians

"His ambulance, parked yards away, is under the cover of a blue tarpaulin to obscure it from regime aircraft, which deliberately target ambulances, doctors, and hospitals—when they bother to target anything at all."

"Unmitigated evil"

 "This is amazingly bonkers."

 You can't actually prove anything by analogy*, so I'm going to cut to the chase: there is an argument that Syria is the catalyst for a sunni-shia battle across the Middle East, and that too is amazingly bonkers. Those may be the faultlines along which conflicts in individual countries lie, but does not mean that all the nations in the Middle East are fighting with each other. That is what Assad and his defenders would like us to believe, it has been the regime that has bombed and shelled across its borders, to add credibility to its claim to be fighting a war of sectarian foreign intervention, when it is not.

 There is more that could be said in defence of Dawkins, but I can leave that.

 *Though you can infer some stuff,[]

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Image result for manpads for the syrian opposition a danger to commercial aviation?

"The vast majority of the attacks preceded 9-11. Consider what that means. At least into the early 1970s, if you wanted to take a couple of guns and a couple of pounds of weed on a US domestic flight, the smart thing to do was to put it in your carry-on. No chance you’d be searched. Even when things got tighter, it happened quite gradually. The distance between airport security before and after 9-11 is so vast that it makes no sense to base an assessment of current dangers on pre-9-11 experiences."

Dance Of May

 I can't be bothered to dot the is and cross the ts right now, but one reason why WWIII is not going to be set off by Western aid to the Syrian rebels is that this is a revolution, not a proxy war. A revolution with strongest support in the countryside, and not centred on the working class, not surprising when the left parties have accommodated the regime. But not a process that the US can turn on and turn off, something the Russians, and far more so the Chinese, with bigger fish to fry in their trade and other interaction with the US, will note before allowing it to become a proper war flashpoint. The Israelis, who have been happy to let Assad stay, are not going to threaten any Russian missiles for real unless they are damn sure the Russians would back down. This isn't the height of the Cold War, nobody is keeping their finger on the button for the sake of Assad.

 All this is is a Russian power play. Before there was serious talk of intervention, it was the US saying that Assad must go which the Russians said was upsetting them, and preventing a peace process. And the same voices that warn of the dangers of helping the rebels now (and suggest it is futile without any assessment, which is where I start to turn off), told us then that the Russian plans were the way to go. Meanwhile, the facts on the ground, that there is a revolutionary people that aren't going to put up with a state of torturers, means that the same choices have to be made down the line, but with Assad's allies having created more chance that the war will spread, and become more sectarian.

Pictures from Syria

Robin Yassin-Kassab

"The Atmeh camp is just inside Syria near the Turkish town of Reyhanli (Reyhaniyeh in Arabic). 22,000 people live in the camp, refugees from the regime’s shelling, aerial bombardment, gunfire, torture and rape."

Riders On The Storm

 Rebels heed lesson of Qusair to repel regime in Aleppo
 'Free Syrian Army claims successful fightback after Assad offensive fails to materialise.
Rebel leaders in Syria say they have repelled a promised regime attack on Aleppo and launched a counter-offensive after learning from their mistakes in the heavy defeat at the town of Qusair.
 Syrian state media had announced that "Operation Northern Storm" would retake Aleppo "within days" after regime forces captured Qusair at the beginning of June.'

Monday, 24 June 2013

Image result for hrw

Syria: Detention and Abuse of Female Activists

"Women have been a powerful voice in the opposition in villages and towns across Syria. In response, the Syrian government is punishing women for delivering humanitarian assistance, participating in protests, and supporting the opposition by subjecting them to detention, torture, and sexual assault."

Inching Into Syria

'I asked a rebel commander named Abu Jarah how he imagined Syria after Assad.
“Maybe Somalia plus Afghanistan,” he replied.
That, I allowed, was a pretty horrifying prospect.
“Not our mistake,” he said. “It’s not what we want. It’s what you gave us, with two years standing and watching.” '
This isn't an entirely coherent piece, the Syrians on the Turkish border seem to think the war might end quite neatly. It does remind me that I suggested to a couple of Friends here last year that even if American help comes very late, it will still make America really quite popular in a post-revolutionary Syria, just as they have been in Iraqi Kurdistan. And he ends with another reminder of the major truth about intervention.
Nobody, except perhaps our enemies, wants to see American troops in Syria. Our aim should be to make life so miserable for Assad and his friends that he agrees, or his sponsors agree, that it is time to stop the killing, send Assad and his circle into exile, and move from blood bath to diplomacy.'

Sunday, 23 June 2013

‘You’re not helping me

cast out sectarian bigotry’

"Thieves, highway bandits and opportunists joined the mavericks infiltrating the Syrian revolution since revolutions don’t attract honourable people only.
But to put those in the spotlight is sheer escapism, which Bashar cheerleaders use in order to justify turning their back on a bona fide revolution against a tyrant and a repressive regime that people have been itching to bring down for decades."
A tank destroyed in the fight for A'zaz lies abandoned before the town mosque.

Regime or revolution: families

torn apart at Syria's front line

"Rebels say that the sectarianism of the conflict was created by Mr Assad, who began creating militias from the Alawite and Shia communities from the first protests against his rule, even though they were demanding political freedoms rather than shouting religious slogans."
I might cohere my thoughts tomorrow about why Russia isn't going to fight to the last rouble to save Assad, or even allow the conflict to risk military confrontation with the US, Israel, or anyone else, starting from the thought that what is going on in Syria is a revolution, not a proxy war, and no amount of international relations theory is going to explain the constraints on imperial power in that circumstance.

Syrian satirists take puppet show into war-torn towns to mock Bashar al-Assad

Image result for Syrian satirists take puppet show into war-torn towns to mock Bashar al-Assad

 "In January the group surreptitiously travelled into the rebel-held town of Manbij in the northern region of Aleppo to perform live in an arts festival organised by local activists, but on the day they arrived it was bombed by Assad's forces, leaving 12 dead and dozens more wounded."

Damascus clashes rage,

Aleppo rebels in new attack

"The regime spent the past weeks trying to prove to world public opinion that it is in control of the course of Syria's war -- but this is not true," said Aleppo-based activist Abu Omar.
"The regime's only battle here is a media battle."

Russia may lose its strong Syria card

"Putin could face deteriorating relations with the U.S. and Europe on behalf of a policy that largely benefits Assad and Iran. Until now Russia has agreed with both, but as the U.S. and the Europeans become more assertive over Syria, Putin must determine whether Assad is still worth the fight. Then again, Iran, for reasons unrelated to Syria, may hesitate before breaking with Moscow just for Assad’s sake."