Saturday, 1 March 2014

War destruction in Aleppo, Syria. (Photo: EPA/MAYSUN)

Scheller: torture videos as
strategy in the Syrian war

In Syria, the regime and Islamists publish videos demonstrably showing their human rights violations. Mid-East expert Bente Scheller of the Heinrich Böll Foundation explains the intentions behind this in a DW interview.
Q. "You're saying the regime has also distributed such videos?"
A. "Yes, we saw this in a truly bizarre form at the beginning of the conflict. There are countless videos available on YouTube that show members of the regime torturing people. At first, we thought that these films had been captured, for example, on the cell phones of regime soldiers who were arrested or killed. But that wasn't the case at all. Many of the videos were sold by the protagonists themselves, who were proud of being seen this way. There was clearly an utter lack of any kind of guilt. These people were sure they were going to evade punishment."
Q. "Can one observe changes in the violations over the course of the conflict?
In the first year, we actually only saw human rights violations by the regime. There were six months where the revolution didn't have any armed fighters. By now, we have so many videos that it's hard to tell whether there has been a change in the radicalism.
A. "The general assumption is that all sides commit these violations, which is correct to a certain degree. But that doesn't mean that they commit them in equal measure. It's been clear and it's still clear that the regime prevails here in a sad way by killing and torturing significantly more often. And they are documenting it in an extremely self-assured way, too."
Q. "Human rights violations by Islamists take up more and more space in the Western perception. Does this serve both Islamist as well as regime propaganda?"
A. "Yes, regime interests meet Islamist interests here. The former party wants to present the Islamists as the gruesome opposition and imply that if Assad fell, the whole country would be dominated by Islamists. The Islamists, on the other hand, find it useful to be perceived as ruthless and cruel. They are fighting for power after all. So the propaganda interests of both sides go hand in hand."

MEMO | ISIS & the Assad Regime: From Marriage of Convenience to Partnership

 "As the Assad regime tried to crush the revolution, conditions of turmoil and lawlessness allowed these groups to originally enter Syria as they snatched power within a vacuum. The Assad regime has been protecting, supporting and facilitating ISIS within Syria. Allowing this group to thrive is his ultimate protection from the international community who has been led to believe he is fighting terrorism in Syria. As ordinary Syrians would testify, Assad is the biggest force of terrorism inside Syria, not only through this partnership but through his systematic state policy of war crimes which continues to crush what started as a peaceful call for freedom."

Voices from the Syrian front"People were and remain generally supportive of Western intervention, although they tend to emphasise the difference between a “new colonialism” and a humanitarian intervention. People have asked me exasperatedly why the British parliament voted against intervening in Syria, with their own conclusions generally being either callousness or stupidity."

Friday, 28 February 2014

Sectarianism and the Arab revolutions
Bassem Chit"In Syria the Assad regime portrays itself as the protector of religious minorities in the face of the "dark forces" of the "Sunni-Takfiri" groups, while Lebanon's Hezbollah, a Shia political force, justifies its military intervention in support of the regime both as a battle against the "US-Israeli-Takfiri Plot", and to protect the legacy of Zainab, the daughter of Imam Ali (cousin of the prophet), who was captured in the battle of Karbala in 680 CE, by adopting the slogan, "Zainab shall not be captured twice". This expresses both the nationalist and sectarian dimension of its intervention.
The Al Qaida affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/Levant (ISIS) and its rivals in Jabhat al-Nusra are both examples of newly formed sectarian organisations in Syria. They arose as a reaction to the weak structures of the Free Syrian Army and to the brutal onslaught of the Syrian regime on the popular uprising. Many people who did not agree with their deeply sectarian ideology found in them the discipline lacking in other fighting organisations in Syria."
I understand that a lot of ISIS are foreign fighters.

ISIS jihadists retreat from
parts of north Syria: activists
' "God is greatest. The heroes of the Free Syrian Army and the Northern Storm (Brigade) have liberated the town of Aazaz from the dogs of Baghdadi," the centre wrote on its Facebook page, referring to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.'

Life Love & Unity

Syria opposition National Council
to rejoin Coalition

Thursday, 27 February 2014


All That Was Left of Yarmouk: Notes to an Accomplice"There is, of course, the anger towards those who remained silent or only spoke to say that all parties shared the blame. Well, only one of those parties remains. There are no more weapons in Yarmouk. No more oppositional fighters. All that is left of Yarmouk is the enduring horror; it’s raspy sobbing telling us what we should have known all along. The devil doesn’t go away simply because you meet his demands."

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Image result for Assad's system of state terror tortured my son to death

Assad's system of state terror
tortured my son to death
"Hearing the regime voicing lies and propaganda about ‘terrorism’ in Geneva, at the same time I was receiving news of Wissam’s death at the hands of their state terror filled me with bitterness. The world must see the irony that the Assad regime continues to wage more pain and terror on the Syrian people than most civilised people could comprehend. My family have testified to this in the most excruciating way, as thousands of Syrian families will continue to do if the world just stands and lets Assad continue these war crimes with impunity."

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"Moadimiyet-a-Sham was one of the biggest setbacks for the Assad regime, because it is in a strategic place and is surrounded by its most powerful military divisions. The regime has tried to take control over it dozens of times. Of course, the biggest attempt was on August 21, 2013, when the Assad regime used weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapons. Even then he wasn’t able to control it.
Most people of the town would never dream of settling for anything other than having the Assad regime going down, sending the criminals to justice and starting to build a new Syria that fits all, but eventually the Assad starvation weapon managed to change a lot of people’s beliefs...
But because the world has stood still during the past three years of the Syrian revolution, again we have found ourselves on our own to adjust to this terrifying reality."

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Moazzam Begg

Ex-Guantánamo detainee Moazzam Begg
held in Birmingham terror raids
'In January of this year Begg condemned Britain's approach to Syria and the alleged criminalising of those who go out to fight there. He wrote: "It is not hard to understand why Muslims would want to go out to Syria to help. Scores of them go every month on humanitarian aid missions and face endless questioning at ports by British police under schedule 7 anti-terrorism powers. It is also understandable why people want to go out and fight for what they believe is a just cause, even if the wisdom of them doing so can be questioned." '

Monday, 24 February 2014

Image result for Syria crisis: Thousands waiting for food in Yarmouk

Syria crisis: Thousands
waiting for food in Yarmouk

It's like that for everyone here." - A hungry kid from the report shown on TV.
That's sixty packets of food for 20,000 people. I've heard that some people can do wonders with five loaves and a couple of fish.

Appeasing Assad; Why Jeffrey Sachs is so Very Wrong
"Sachs, like so many Lefists, has got it so very backwards. If America cut off what little aid it sends to rebel groups, it would have no effect whatsoever on the conflict. And yet if Iran and Hizbollah withdrew their support for Assad, the regime would collapse within a matter of months."

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Image result for Local truces aside, the ingredients for a long Syrian war are all still in place

Local truces aside, the ingredients for a long Syrian war are all still in place

"Given that the rebels are at present divided,"
They are united about overthrowing Assad.
"lacking popular support"
"and on the retreat,"
According to Patrick Cockburn's mates in the Syrian Army in Homs and Damascus.
"it may take years of warfare before they and their Western and regional backers can dictate surrender terms to the other side."
Then maybe these backers should hand over sufficient weaponry for them to be able to take down a dictator they have fought to a standstill with David v Goliath disparities of armament.
But wait.
"It could happen more quickly only if the Assad government and the Syrian army were shorn of support from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, something that, so far, is not happening."
Now maybe if we'd focused on that...
But wait.
"If anything, the struggle for the Ukraine between the West and Moscow is likely to make the Russians even more determined not to see their status as a great power eroded by defeat in Syria."
This is just reporting Russian desires as immutable necessities. All along Cockburn has told us that if the cost is raised to the Russians of staying with Assad, they will respond by doubling down on him. The events in the near-abroad, as Russian foreign policy calls its ex-colonial possessions, are likely to impact more, but the logical lesson would be that pissing off too many people may lead to foreign policy failures.
"These appointments do not mean any reduction in direct Saudi support for the rebels but they do denote a policy more closely aligned with the US."
You realise at this point that Cockburn's analysis is useless. The Saudis are in dispute with the US about whether they can supply the rebels with anti-aircraft weapons, which is not lessened by Bandar's replacement.
"It is naive in these circumstances to imagine that the dispatch of shoulder-held anti-aircraft or anti-tank weapons, as is now predicted, is going to make the rebels more successful. Journalists, intelligence officers and rebels tend to be over-impressed by the idea that arms such as these make much difference."
Cockburn is like those other journalists and intelligence officers who don't care if those weapons would stop Assad's attacks on civilians.
"One of the big mistakes of the opposition and its backers has been to allow the question of who rules in Damascus to become part of the hot and cold war between Iran and its enemies, and between Shia and Sunni, conflicts that have been going on since the Iranian revolution in 1979."
It is Cockburn and his like who have been trying to make out that this is all about the Sunni-Shia difference,about Iran and not about a dictator and a people that have had enough.