Saturday, 19 April 2014

The Lessons of Spain: The Last Warning

Image result for Leon Trotsky The Lessons of Spain: The Last Warning

Leon Trotsky:

 "And what if Moscow, in the absence of a Popular Front, should have refused to give arms altogether? And what, we answer to this, if the Soviet Union did not exist altogether? Revolutions have been victorious up to this time not at all thanks to high and mighty foreign patrons who supplied them with arms. As a rule, counterrevolution enjoyed foreign patronage. Must we recall the experiences of the intervention of French, English, American, Japanese, and other armies against the Soviets? The proletariat of Russia conquered domestic reaction and foreign interventionists without military support form the outside. Revolutions succeed, in the first place, with the help of a bold social program, which gives the masses the possibility of seizing weapons that are on the territory and disorganizing the army of the enemy. The Red Army seized French, English, and American military supplies and drove the foreign expeditionary corps into the sea. Has this really been forgotten?"

 Trotsky's writings on Spain are interesting in the light of the debate about the Syrian revolution. The argument that a bold programme wins more people over is probably good, though that that provision of arms doesn't matter may not really fit, given the lack of such political forces in Syria today.

 I was actually looking to see if he said somewhere that the Soviet secret police murdering Trotskyists shouldn't prevent them fighting on the same side against Franco, and so looking for a comparison with Jabhat al-Nusra. maybe I'll just have to make the comparison without the cover of his authority.
Edouard Elias

Kidnapped French journalists released
10 months after abduction in Syria
"The objective of Isis is to establish an Islamic state in the land it controls in northern Syria and is often in conflict with other rebels as well as the government."
The last part is not true, they are rarely if ever in conflict with the government, their headquarters in Raqqa is never bombed by Assad's airforce, which has civilians to drive out of the country. Hopefully this is a result of ISIS' weakening, and there will be more to follow.

Rime Allaf

No automatic alt text available.

That Peter Oborne has been a fan of Syria’s genocidal dictator for some time is clear...
Oborne suspects that some of the accounts of the government’s dreadful atrocities “have been exaggerated”; would that include the evidence of the Assad regime’s systematic mass torture and starvation until death of over 11,000 Syrian men, women and children?..
It is outright dishonest of Oborne to claim that “jihadist groups make up the opposition” when the Free Syrian Army, formed initially by brave defecting soldiers who refused to carry out Assad’s orders to kill their compatriots, is the only force actually fighting the very jihadists of ISIS who the Assad regime never attacks..."

Teach Your Children

 Syria: More Regime Chemical Attacks in Hama Province on Friday?


 "Footage has also been posted of suffering infants."

 Anyone who mistakes this for the stories of Iraqis ripping babies from incubators in Kuwait in 1991 is doing these actual victims a disservice.
Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund
Bayern Munich suffered back-to-back Bundesliga defeats for the first time since November 2011 as Borussia Dortmund cruised to victoryThere is clear proof that Dortmund used Şahin during this match. You can find his name on the teamsheet, I've just seen footage of the match where he is clearly identified. But there will be those who want to claim he was on the Munich side, despite there being no evidence for this whatsoever, because there is nothing Bayern won't stoop to. And let's not forget the role of Şahin's parent club, Real Madrid, generously supported by the fascist dictator Franco for decades, in feeding this sectarian proxy war.

Ukraine and imperialism"Syria remained a key Russian ally. Russia had troops stationed in Syria, and supplied Al-Assad with weapons to put down the revolution. At this point, the Stop the War Coalition argument that “the real enemy is at home” slogan was appropriate ceased to be a principled anti-imperialist position, and became nothing more than apologism for Putin’s Russia and the regimes he supports. This is not internationalism, as the real enemy for the people of Syria was not the US, but Al-Assad and the Russian state backing him."

Raising specter of genocide, US Ambassador Power slams ‘industrial-style slaughter’ in Syria


 Samantha Power says what is happening, and Fox News reports it, while much of the Left buries its head in the sand.

 'She described the photos of Syrian prisoners as showing “systematic, industrial-style slaughter and forced starvation killings” – photos which, she noted, were from just three of the 50 Syrian-run detention centers. “And to that we can add the Syrian victims of chemical weapons attacks, the children felled by barrel bombs and those being starved to death in besieged towns and villages, or those executed by terrorist groups.” '


 ‘Yes, we have taken over the dreadful heritage left to us by the autocracy and by the four years of world slaughter that have exhausted the country. It is true that the working class is experiencing difficulties, but it is also true that work for the transformation of the country is very difficult work. The propertied classes ruled for thousands of years and inflicted many wounds, and the working class has had to heal these wounds in the course of a few months. Give us time: we shall cope with everything.’


Friday, 18 April 2014

Syrian shops painted in national flag colours
The one certainty about Syria's looming election – Assad will win

"The number of Syrian refugees is now close to nine million, more than six million of whom remain internally displaced in opposition-held areas, with little chance of getting to a government office to register, even if they wanted to."

I'm reminded of this: "Dall'Oglio warned that ''let's imagine for a second that, even with the decisive help of Christians, the regime manages to crush the revolution. We can predict there will be some 500,000 dead and 10 million refugees. What remains of our Christian testimony? Even if Christians were to return - an unlikely prospect - to Syria, what would we go back to doing after having accepted such a genocide?'' "


Image result for Brighton teenager Abdullah Deghayes killed in Syria

Brighton teenager Abdullah Deghayes
killed in Syria
"He couldn't sit still watching the news of the gross injustice taking place in Syria. For Abdullah it was not enough to just donate money or baby milk, he felt he needed to do more."

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Why does the mass media ignore mass murder in Syria?

View image on Twitter

"One of the best indications this is the mainstream media's policy came this week when the Syrian government and the Syrian opposition traded accusations over who was using poison gas again in Syria. This should be a big news story for the mainstream media but it has raised hardly a murmur. 
The media paid attention to Syria as never before after the 21 August sarin attack because it involved Obama's called bluff and it showed the bodies as never before. As if a hundred thousand people had not been slaughtered already by non-chemical means, the media jumped all over the chemical attack as though it was a fetish. The shameless pro-Assad forces in the blogosphere took up the defense of Assad as if proving he didn't do the sarin attack was the same as exonerating him of mass murder. Even while the media failed to report on Assad's continuing siege of Ghouta, using both bombardment and starvation as weapons, they gave coverage for everybody's opinions and findings on the chemical attack.
There can be little doubt that there have been new chemical attacks in Syria, since both sides agree there have been. While they both predictively point the finger at get other, if the reports that the gas bombs there dropped out of helicopters are accurate, there can be little doubt that those were Assad regime helicopters. Given the history of coverage on the chemical question in Syria, one would expect reports of a new chemical attack to break through this news blackout.
Why hasn't it?"

Children play on a street of damaged buildings in the besieged city of Homs

Syrian rebels warn of potential Homs massacre as regime troops advance"The regime has reduced what was the soul of the revolution to rubble and ruin. The international community must watch to ensure the regime does not massacre the remaining brave people left in the Old City."

British jihadists in Syria are playing into Assad's hands

Fighters of al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant parade at Syrian town of Tel Abyad

"Syrians clearly have the right to defend themselves against Assad's brutal response to what began as peaceful calls for democracy. And, notwithstanding the moral and practical preferability of nonviolent struggle, an argument can be made that only force could ever topple a regime with a core as formidably solid as this one."
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I agreed with David Wearing's piece. A lot of people in the pro-solidarity crowd will dispute his assignment of a low probability to the idea that the worst Islamist group is a régime tool (and the claim needn't be that strong, if there isn't control, that they never attack each other shows commonality of interest). He doesn't address the question of the more secular groups receiving the arms they need, and, "those wealthy states who were agitating for military intervention last autumn", just isn't true, the trips to Congress and parliament to pass the buck were to enable Obama and Cameron to appear to have done what they could, without risking any political capital in trying to do anything whatsoever about Assad's mass murder with chemical weapons. And the real military intervention in Syria is by Russia and Iran and Hezbollah, blah, blah, blah.
But the rest is good.

Feel The Force

'Given that Assad does not accept any political transition process and will not too, Sabra says that “there seems no solution other than toppling Assad with the force of weapon”.'
Dr Thomas Pierret: amount of digital film from Syria war makes it unique, he told Griffith College students. Photograph: Peter Murtagh

Many war crimes documented in Syria,
says specialist

"Outside military intervention is necessary. This should include, in his view, the enforcement of a no-fly zone to prevent regime attacks on civilians, and arming the opposition."
And these war crimes are much better documented than any genocide in history.

Behind Assad's victory boasts, a recalibration of success in Syria
“I'm not sure that Assad would want to expend the time or effort to reconquer those parts of Syria whose inhabitants he largely holds in contempt.”
You can't remain a legitimate president forever when your strategy is to make a desert and call it peace.

Eliot Higgins

In praise of … Brown Moses

Syria war: Maaloula's monastery destroyed
after Assad forces drive rebels out

' "Imad, said there had been 32 churches in Maaloula and claimed that "all of them have been destroyed" - although it was clear from the vantage point near the monastery that in fact churches were still standing, albeit with signs of damage and some burning.
I can't describe my feelings because the terrorists are destroying the Christian religion," said Imad, who said he had been an electrician in Maaloula before he joined the military and the rest of his family moved to Damasacus two years ago.'
He was probably a plumber.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Jordanian air strike

Jordanian warplanes destroy vehicles trying to cross from Syria

Jordanian security source says targets were Syrian rebels in civilian cars mounted with machine guns
Those can't be the 'Western-backed' rebels, because there aren't any. Actually an unnamed Western country had provided an FSA brigade with 20 anti-tank weapons, hardly making up for the weapons the US has stopped going through Jordan, while the Russians continue to supply as much weaponry as Assad can pay for.

Image result for women rock the syrian revolution

Women Rock the Syrian Revolution
"The two largest coalitions of grassroots groups that organise the protests in Syria are led by women."
One of them, Razan Zaitouneh, said this of the responsibility for the August chemical attack, on a show with Patrick Cockburn, which may be why he hasn't found himself going fully denialist.
RAZAN ZAITOUNEH: This is—if this is the question—first of all, if you believe that we are a crazy people who would kill themselves and their children, then you can ask such a question.
AMY GOODMAN: Did you—since you were in the area, was there any physical evidence that you saw that the government was responsible for this?
RAZAN ZAITOUNEH: That the rockets which was used for the shelling coming from the regime forces, it’s clear. There is no doubt about it. And why wondering? The Syrian people killed hundreds of people when the Arab observers mission was there, and they turned a blind eye to it. So what made you think that? After 100,000 victims and after all that crimes committed by the regime, the regime is not able to do anything to stay in power.


The roots and grassroots
of the Syrian revolution

"In the northeastern part of Syria, populated by a majority of Kurds, recent battles between Islamists and Kurdish militias from the PYD (linked to the PKK) has led to the emergence of many popular initiatives from the activists and the local population.
Those popular initiatives aimed to show the brotherhood of Kurds and Arabs in this region, and to reaffirm that the popular Syrian revolution is for all, and that it condemns racism and sectarianism."

Syrian Director Talal Derki, winner of the Middle East Now film festival held in Florence for his documentary 'Return to Homs'

Talal Derki's 'Return to Homs' wins Middle East Now

Director at Florence film festival,'don't believe regime's lies'
' ''Syria is not just Assad or Al-Qaeda. Don't be fooled by the Syrian president's words, because the choice is not between him and religious extremists. There are moderates in the country and they account for about 70% of the population, but nobody is interested in them. No one - and especially not the media - speak about them, since they don't make a good news story." '

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 16: Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, NY on January 16, 2014. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post)

The moral depravity of our Syria policyI think Jennifer Rubin is not someone I would agree with on much, but I think it is true that there never was any intention to use force in Syria, and Obama and Cameron got their legislatures to alibi the deception.
"Power really must be pulling our leg when she said that the president put out the “credible threat of military force.” Yes, he did. And then looked to Congress to bail him out. And then did not use the threat of force. If this is “credible,” then the word has no meaning."

Opinion: A Mixed Record

 'In 1974, Hersh wrote that the US envoy in Chile was warned of the coup against Allende before it happened. Years later, Hersh apologized and said what he wrote wasn’t true. A book he wrote on former US President John F. Kennedy contained several inaccuracies. In 2004, Hersh said he documented information that George W. Bush’s administration would launch a war on Iran. It turned out that none of this was true. During the US occupation of Iraq, Hersh said that 1 billion US dollars had disappeared and that a television station was under threat of being excluded from press briefings because it had asked embarrassing questions of then-First Lady Laura Bush. None of these claims were proven true.
The truth is, he who desires to examine the man’s achievements will find plenty of them, and he who wants to examine the man’s failures will not be disappointed either. It’s necessary to remember this when reading Hersh’s recent piece on Syrian chemical weapons—he based his report on what he described as a single “well-informed” source, without presenting any document, photo or even official report."
86'd'A top Iranian military officer has said Tehran managed to fend off a campaign by 86 countries to topple the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.' 
The US are saying this:
'The United States on Monday took issue with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's analysis that the bitter conflict was turning in his favor, saying it had become a "war of attrition."
"Our analysis remains what it has been, that this is a war of attrition and neither side has been able to deliver or hold onto significant gains," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
She told reporters that she was not "going to give ground game updates. Certainly our efforts to engage with the opposition continue." '
Mazen Syrian in Homs has had this to say this morning:
aircraft in Homs' sky
Launchers mounted on the edge of every streets, the shelling has not slowed since the morning, stray bullets everywhere, sounds are terrible....
Portraid of Dr. Mazen E. Hamad wearing a black suit and a red tie against a black backdrop

Syrian Doctor In Cary Pushes For Free Syria
'They are not ashamed of anything. You could kill someone in Syria and nobody would question that...
As a revenge they executed him along with a number of people with no trial...
What you and you family speak about, what you don't do in front of strangers; you speak one thing to one person, another thing to another person, and everybody learns how to live this double life...You are always afraid that someone will report that you've said the wrong thing...
I was preparing a sign for Libya, and the Syrian revolution started, so I did two parts of it, Down With Assad, and Down With Gadaffi; and a friend of mine who's an American woman, who helped write it, her name's Annette Stevenson, who never heard about the whole thing, helped write the sign...
We were full of hope that it would last a few months, and Assad would be gone...
I never thought that three people could meet in Syria and say Down With Assad...
To have people go out and say, "we want freedom", it was a dream...
Children wrote on the walls, "we want freedom", and the government arrested them , tortured them, pulled their nails out, and people reacted...
It's becoming more complicated. Most Syrians were hoping the international community would help us much sooner....
We're not asking about American soldiers to be on the ground, or American life to be put in jeopardy. I don't want the United States to be in a bad position, but at the same time, to have people by hundreds of thousands getting killed, two million refugees, families torn apart; if you can help, at least change the equation on the ground, whatever it takes, whether providing political support, military support, defensive weapons at least; we can liberate ourselves, and that is what we are asking for.'

Monday, 14 April 2014

Ahmad Jarba reacts during a news conference in Moscow in February 2014

Syria opposition: Allies must
honour weapons 'promises
''But without heavy, particularly anti-aircraft, weapons, Mr Jarba faces an uphill struggle to defeat President Assad, and that is a goal to which he is implacably committed, our correspondent adds.
"Syrians, after paying this price for freedom, won't allow this stupid man to rule them once again - whatever the price is," Mr Jarba said.'

David Ignatius: In Syria, a rebel with a cause

David Ignatius

"Maarouf, 39, is an example of the younger generation of commanders in the bottom-up Syrian revolution. The previous Free Syrian Army leader in the north, Gen Salim Idriss, was a thoughtful, German-educated former professor at a Syrian war college. By contrast, Maarouf is high-school graduate who served in a tank unit during his two-year mandatory service in the Syrian army and then worked in construction in Lebanon."

Reports of poison gas attack in Syria so far 'unsubstantiated', Powers says

Amateur video provided by the Shams News Network, a loosely organized anti-Assad group, showing a man with an oxygen mask in Kfar Zeita, purportedly the site of a chemical attack.

 One of the claims made by the Sarin left is that the claims of wrongdoing by the Assad régime are propaganda emanating from the US State Department, so I note yet again that the US are responding, or not responding, to reports of what has happened, not originating them. A few people talking about the CIA and false flags in the comments, including one promoting Seymour Hersh's LRB piece. I see that Aboud Dandachi has been replying to such comments in various places on the internet.

 The conclusion in this piece is that everything is murky, because the writer has not made any effort to find out what the detail of the case made by each side about the chemical attacks is, as far as I can see.

 There were a number of other Syria-related, or metaphorically-related things I've seen this morning. Syria faces a lost generation of children because they have been made refugees by Assad, and are not getting schooling. "The biggest single problem remains the lack of a political solution to the crisis in Syria," that would be removing Assad and his régime.* "The Iraqi government is poised to legalize child marriage for the nation’s majority Shiite Muslim population," these are the people who have helped fight Assad's sectarian war against Sunni Muslims in Syria which threatens to widen the sectarian divide in the region.**

 "On April 12, 1864, Confederate troops under the command of Nathan Bedford Forrest massacred black Union troops attempting to surrender after their defeat at Fort Pillow, Tennessee. In a war of horrible things, this was probably the worst, as angry southerners got their revenge on their slaves leaving them by dyeing the river red with their blood."***


Syrian flag

Alternative Left Perspectives on Syria
 Danny Postel"There is a fourth camp, however: a small but growing group of progressives who embrace the goals of the Syrian revolution. There are several shades within this camp – it includes Marxists, pacifists, feminists, Third Worldists and leftists of various sorts. Some support the armed struggle in Syria, others do not, standing instead with the nonviolence activists in Syria. But what unites this camp is its solidarity with the Syrian struggle for dignity, justice and self-determination."

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Syrian refugee children walk through mud at the Bab Al-Salam refugee camp in Azaz, near the Syrian-Turkish border, March 14, 2014.

Syrian government blocking
aid to millions of refugees
The headline tells the simple truth; it isn't a few people, it isn't both sides, it isn't too complex to understand.

Image result for MI6, the CIA and Turkey's rogue game in Syria

MI6, the CIA and Turkey's
rogue game in Syria

 Bullshit from the off.

"The US's Secretary of State John Kerry and its UN ambassador, Samantha Power have been pushing for more assistance to be given to the Syrian rebels. This is despite strong evidence that the Syrian armed opposition are, more than ever, dominated by jihadi fighters similar in their beliefs and methods to al-Qa'ida."
I saw John Kerry being questioned by senators on C-Span today, and he wasn't pushing for the arming of any rebels. He was saying that it is only through the Geneva process that peace will be achieved, and had sharp exchanges with John McCain, who has supported arming the Free Syrian Army with the weponry it needs. And weapons to the FSA do not strengthen al-Qaida linked groups, it is the lack of arms to the FSA that has drawn Syrians to groups that can get weapons. This descends far into fantasy when he mentions ISIS, the group that doesn't fight Assad, and other rebel groups have been trying to get rid of.
"It may also be starting to strike home in the US and Europe that aid to the armed rebellion in Syria means destabilising Iraq. When Isis brings suicide bombers from across the Turkish border into Syria it can as easily direct them to Baghdad as Aleppo."
One thing Cockburn doesn't do is go along with the genocide denial over the chemical attacks. But he does like the theory that America was shipping weapons from Libya to the Syrian rebels, which is nonsense given their role in Jordan stopping the FSA from getting heavy weapons. He comes up with the usual arguments against arming the Syrians, including lies like this:
"A problem here is that the secular moderate faction of committed Syrian opposition fighters does not really exist."
There will certainly not be one if the only people supplying arms are Saudi Arabia, and on a far greater scale, those who supply Assad. That Cockburn doesn't see Russian arms supplies as the creator of destabilisation and encouragement of jihadism, shows how little he cares about the actual dynamics of the conflict.