Saturday, 15 February 2014

A secular-Islamist front must be built in Syria


"Secular and Islamists must join forces to form a solid political and military front. This is the best way to get rid of terrorists in Syria as a prelude to toppling the regime of President Bashar Al Assad. Terrorists have always been used by Mr Al Assad’s dynasty, a fact that has grown more intense recently, as evidenced by the many documents found by the fighters of the Free Syrian Army at Isil’s dens."

Friday, 14 February 2014

How to Build a Perfect Refugee Camp"The Turks may have built as good a refugee camp as it is possible to build. But a camp is still a camp. And if a camp becomes a shelter not just for a few months but for years, a substitute — even a deterrent — to a real solution, how much does it matter how nice it is?"
That's true. What's also true is that Turkey is accused by supporters of Assad of doing much harm to Syria through its support of the opposition, again the truth is that while it may be doing all this for its own purposes, it is still doing a lot of good. Generally Syrians will remember well those that helped them, and not those who did nothing but warn them of the perils of accepting help.

Ladder To Damascus

'The film portrays the anguish of the revolution not through scenes of protest and war, but through the frustrations of the artists trapped inside their house. Ladder to Damascus is a delicate film about the human condition, the need to dream and the role of hope in personal determination. As Malas concludes: “I don’t think that cinema is a way to politics, nor a political tool. Cinema is a letter from the sentiments of the characters in the film. It looks inside a person to transfer an idea or image to the viewer’s interior, to their sentiments as well.” '

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Man arrested as bomb disposal team and police lock down Saltash street

 Yet more signs of Cornwall's degeneration from a natural disaster into a vicious sectarian proxy war. The worry is that those who say they are going to help will return radicalised, and with the knowledge and readiness to use a range of frightening weaponry, from Semtex to pitchforks. We can't let this become another Northern Ireland.

Use Force to Save Starving Syrians
 "We should invoke the Responsibility to Protect, the principle that if a state fails to protect its populations from mass atrocities — or is in fact the perpetrator of such crimes — the international community must step in to protect the victims, with the collective use of force authorized by the Security Council. And if a multinational force cannot be assembled, then at least some countries should step up and organize Syria’s democratically oriented rebel groups to provide t
he necessary force on the ground, with air cover from participating nations."
I like the bit about helping the rebel groups the most. As we see the UN wash their hands of the starving young men seized by the Syrian government from the siege of Homs, it is hard to believe any responsibility to protect action by the US and others would not produce some squalid mess. More significantly, I don't think there is any desire in Washington or London or Paris to actually fight any sort of military action in Syria, so calling for direct intervention may just be a dead end.
But the far more important thing is the support for the Syrian revolution, and the understanding that the military fight against Assad underpins the survival of Syria, let alone any progress. There probably will come a time when Syrians are far more divided about the way forward, as will those in solidarity with its aims. But at the moment there is unity about seeing the removal of Assad and his régime as the vital task, and those arguing within that framework are helping. Those who think this is an appropriate time to lecture the Syrians on the hypothetical dangers of the US bombing Assad's forces, rather than protesting that the world does nothing about the real bombs dropped on them by Assad, absent themselves from helping. And as the Syrian crisis gets worse, if the only two options are American intervention or doing nothing, we will end up with the first, especially if the argument to do nothing is based on what ifs, rather than any analysis.

Syrian forces bombard opposition stronghold of Yabroud

Syrian forces bombard opposition
stronghold of Yabroud
"Yabroud had been relatively untouched.
Home to a large Christian population, it was largely left alone by the government, and, while other opposition towns were being subjected to daily barrages of artillery, the opposition in Yabroud was able to administer the town, setting up local councils and running schools. Armed rebels were kept on the fringes, and foreign jihadists were not welcome. It was, for a long time, a model town for the Syrian revolution.
The peace was always considered temporary however. With Yabroud being a key part of a supply line for weapons from Lebanon to opposition fighters in the region, it remained a thorn in the government’s side."

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

U.N. aid convoy reaches Homs rebel enclave'The Assad regime detained hundreds of evacuees from the besieged city of Homs as soon as they were rescued, the top U.N. humanitarian official in Syria said.
The world body now has no control over their fate, said Yacoub El Hillo, the U.N. official heading the Homs mission.
About 100 were released Tuesday after receiving amnesty, but the rest were held in a school in a regime-controlled section of the city, U.N. and local officials said.
The governor refused to let news organizations visit the school.
The military-age men "wished to get out and they put themselves at the disposal of the government and relevant authorities," Gov. Talal al-Barazi said in remarks quoted by the Journal.
"The goal is to return Syrian citizens to the state's bosom," Barazi said.'
I would think then that 'rescue' has the opposite of its usual meaning. 'Humanitarian' isn't doing so well either.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Mideast Syria Tides of War
Battle against ISIS may help
unify fractured Syrian rebels
'The United States and European and Middle Eastern countries have expressed alarm at the spread of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. But in the struggle for al Atarib, Maarouf said, he received no assistance from the West or from Persian Gulf countries, some of which have been accused of surreptitiously funding ISIS.
Instead, the fighters in their ragtag outfits relied on captured weapons and ammunition and had to push some of their vehicles to get them started.
“For more than a year, we haven’t got anything but a very minimal amount of supplies,” Maarouf told “Frontline” in an interview made available to McClatchy. “We used to meet mostly with our brothers in Saudi Arabia, and they offered us a bit of support, but . . . it wasn’t enough. What we used to get from other countries was only promises. Even now we don’t receive anything.”
Not even free advice. “Until now, we make our own plans, and execute them without guidance,” 1st Lt. Hazem al Murai, the commander who led the most crucial part of the operation, told “Frontline.” '

Wasfi Massarani

 Pirate Radio Gives Voice to Syrian Opposition

 By BEN HUBBARD FEB. 10, 2014

 Wasfi Massarani, a Syrian singer, on Radio Watan, one of more than a dozen radio stations that have sprung up in opposition to President Bashar al-Assad. Bryan Denton for The New York Times

 ISTANBUL — The engineer gave the cue that the station was on the air, and the keyboard player began a mournful tune. Then the night’s guest joined in, his rich baritone filling the small, rooftop studio here as it was being broadcast by pirate transmitters in pockets across Syria, his war-torn home.
Image result for Leon Trotsky The History of the Russian Revolution

The Conquest of the Capital'In the morning, a party of junkers who had left the Winter Palace in a truck in search of provisions, and been held up by the sappers at Nikolaevsky station, were brought to Smolny. Podvoisky relates the following: “Trotsky told them that they were free on condition that they give a promise not to take further action against the Soviet power, and that they might go back to their school and get to work. The youngsters, who had expected a bloody end, were unspeakably surprised at this.” To what extent their immediate liberation was wise, remains in doubt. The victory was not yet finally achieved. The junkers were the chief force of the enemy. On the other hand, with the wavering moods in the military schools, it was important to prove by example that a surrender to the mercy of the victor would not threaten the junkers with punishment.'

orwell hero terror

Orwell was hailed a hero for fighting in Spain. Today he'd be guilty of terrorism
"But he and his forces present a grave threat to many of the people of Syria. Is that not a relevant consideration when deciding whether people opposing him are terrorists or freedom fighters?"

Monday, 10 February 2014

Swedish socialist weekly
celebrates 40 years
"Our people are sacrificing their lives to change Syria from a dictatorship to a democracy. Our people are trying to stop all criminal activities committed by a terrorist regime, and their actions come as a reaction to the regime’s crimes."

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Assad is trapped by the limitations imposed by his own rhetoric. It cant end well for him.

One Day, it Will be an Alawite Who Finally Kills Assad
"Failing to deliver on a military victory, and unable to take any steps towards a political settlement, his ability to exert control over elements within his own regime will continue to be undermined. Today, he can’t even deliver a prisoner alive and well to a friendly pro-Iranian British MP, or ensure the safety of a UN aid convoy. In the not too distant future, his inability to influence events will become clearer and more apparent, until his very life will be in danger from those closest to him, looking to replace him with someone who in their view can execute the war more efficiently, and not pussyfoot about unleashing every single drop of chemicals in the regime’s arsenal."

Abdullah Anas speaks with The Majalla. (The Majalla/Tam Hussein)

Jihad, Then and Now

The Majalla speaks to Abdullah Anas

The son-in-law of Abdullah Yusuf Azzam and a former comrade of Osama Bin Laden reflects on the differences between the struggle in Afghanistan in the 1980s and in Syria today
He's not impressed with the youngsters who run off to get martyred in Syria without worrying about whether they are liberating it or not.
"Prisoners have full rights. We fed them the same food, gave them the same clothes and the same quality of life. After several months, many of the Soviet troops started to believe that they weren’t prisoners because we were on such good terms with them. Through our conduct we showed them we were not bloodthirsty people. Some of them became Muslims, others remain our friends to this day.
The argument that God will forgive you if you execute prisoners because of the dangers is not acceptable. Killing prisoners is a big responsibility. They [the perpetrators] need to stand trial and judgment—without understanding their case one cannot decide if someone deserves to die or not. Unfortunately, this culture has disappeared now. I think the number-one responsibility for this falls on Al-Qaeda."

Horrors of Syria's
prisons visit Geneva

"If the regime admits to the presence of detainees, it would be condemning itself in front of the international community.
This is simply because the regime killed a lot of them under torture. The rest of the detainees will be used as a bargaining chip."
As nothing has been done to allow Syrians to stop this madness, the situation grows more complicated. Those members of the government forces that have not defected know that they are more complicit in the régime's crimes as time goes on, and so more fearful that they will be held accountable.

This is not an argument that nothing should be done; it is Assad's doomed fight for survival that produces the spiral of atrocity, it is ignoring the problem that has let it fester. It is not an argument for a US invasion, though many Syrians would prefer that to what they've got now. Firstly, put the blame where it lies, on the Russians who could pull the plug now and could have done so much earlier.
When Assad is gone, the truth about the torture and the rape and the chemical attacks will come out. The people who have claimed that they were just Western propaganda to drag us into another Middle East war will look like fools. But if no alternative way of helping the Syrian people resist the genocidal attentions of its government has structured the public debate, full-scale Western interventions, with all their ulterior motives, will have been rehabilitated.

Bassam Imadi: "Any authority that is taken away from this régime, it will crumble. It is based on corruption. After Gadaffi fell, we found out how many people actually supported him [not many].The only people who support it [the Assad government] are those benefiting from its corruption. There are Alawite villages now under siege." On al-Jazeera's Inside Syria.