Friday, 2 May 2014


The Chemical Massacre in Eastern Ghouta: The Distance Between the Images and the Victims"The one consistent fact about the horrifying images that have come out of Syria over the past 21/2 years is that in many cases, we don’t know who made them and what they depict. All we see are decontextualized cruelty and misery. Cynicism creeps in, and there is a natural tendency to push the images away as a kind of insoluble puzzle.
The girl in the purple t-shirt is called Fatima Ghorra, three years old. The girl in the yellow t-shirt is her sister, Hiba Ghorra, four years old. The man is their maternal grandfather, Abu Hamza al-Sheikh. Their father is Nabil Ghorra, a medical doctor, and their mother is from al-Sheikh family. Fatima and Hiba have three sisters and one brother: Battoul, 16 years old, Rama, 15 years old, Muhammad, 12 years old, and Dania, 9 years old. Ghorra family resided in Zamalka. Nearly one year ago, the parents forbade their kids going to school, especially after some pro-regime teachers began showing up to school with their guns, and questioning 12 year old children on their political affiliations. Since then, the children spent most of their time indoor. In moments of intensified shelling, parents tried to calm down their kids either by lying on them or by holding them. At the beginning of this year, and due to escalating clashes and shellings, Ghorra family moved to the nearby town of Hazzeh, to return to Zamalka couple of months ago, but to a new apartment in Zayniya neighbourhood."

Lakhdar Brahimi, UN-Arab League envoy for Syria,

UN looking for Syria envoy as Brahimi
prepares to quit after failed peace talks
Somebody has to say that the two sides are much the same, and peace might come if the rebels stop fighting. Perhaps they should appoint Ian Black, Guardian Middle East editor and author of this article?
"According to the latest figures more than 150,000 people have been killed since the anti-Assad uprising began in March 2011 with peaceful protests against the background of the Arab spring. But Syria is now embroiled in a fully fledged war that has drawn in foreign forces and support on both sides."

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Shopping For Blood

 'Local activists said a government helicopter had dropped three barrel bombs on the area, which had been packed with shoppers at the time.

 "It was mayhem; many of the bodies are burned," one of them, Hasson Abu Faisal, told the Associated Press.'

Image result for Teaching Revolution: Education in Wartime Syria

Teaching Revolution: Education in Wartime Syria
"The likes of Mohammed need to be supported with funds and depoliticized teaching material—and rather than shying away from the Islamic character of such groups, foreign donors need to accept that religion is a part of the lives of Syrians and that Islamic groups will always be part of civil society. It is not enough that Syrian children are given education outside of their country as refugees. NGOs must also be willing to work with organizations such as Mohammed’s network to provide children with a semblance of education. The alternative is to raise an ignorant generation brutalized by war, sowing more problems for the future."

Whose sarin?

LRB Cover

 Oh Christ, Eamonn McCann has fallen for this genocide denialist crap. The four most obvious mistakes I can find in his last couple of paragraphs are misspelling al-Nusra, claiming that al-Nusra are allied to Turkey, that all we can be sure of is that everything is confusing and terrifying, and that people are trying to ignore Seymour Hersh. Supporters of the Syrian revolution, such as Jamie Allinson on the letters page of the London Review of Books, are very concerned about the way Hersh's inventions are being used to weaken the case against Assad.

 "The story brings into focus, too, the fact that the Ankara regime of Recep Erdogan is allied with one of the fiercest of the jihadist factions of the splintered anti-Assad movement, the al-Nasra Front, also associated with al-Qaida.
All we can say for certain about the implications of this cat's cradle of murder, conspiracy and lies is that they are terrifying. Which, perhaps, is why, again, so many are averting their eyes from a Sy Hersh story."*

 Someone should have a word with Eamonn and suggest he not embarrass himself further.


Update: World allows Assad's murder spree to continue

 The idea that the rebels would gas themselves is based on an acceptance of a dishonest picture of them that the Assad régime has built up.

 'Tlass also tells us about Assad's history of using false-flag attacks, as could be expected of a criminal gang. This practice of staging attacks and blaming the opposition must always be remembered when considering the claims of the Assad regime about deaths caused by the revolutionaries:

 "I must now say a few words about the indiscriminate attacks that occurred in Damascus at the end of 2011 and in early 2012. I can confirm that all these spectacular operations were carried out by the regime. And if not all of them, very nearly all of them. You can take this as reliable and corroborated information. Either way I will only speak here of attacks for which I have first-hand information, transmitted by officers who conducted the investigation. I’m not talking about ordinary officers, but members of the secret cell I mentioned previously." '

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Free Syria contingent at NYC May Day march
The Syrian revolution has its roots in the same kind of economic grievances faced by working people in the US and the West: widespread youth unemployment, high food prices, austerity measures, and a bloated military budget. Fearing unrest, the Bashar Assad regime muscled up on its security, pouring money into the police and intelligence services at the expense of social spending. Any vocal criticism of the government was met with persecution by the police state long before the eruption in the spring of 2011.

"We demand that Russia stop its supply of weapons to Assad
We demand that the US open its doors wide to Syrian refugees
We demand that Assad be tried for crimes against humanity"

Volunteers distribute free meals to residents at the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk.

Yarmouk refugees tell of brutal
treatment at hands of Syrians

"Our so-called leaders have their own reasons for their closeness to the Syrian regime," said Umm Sameer. "And it has nothing to do with us. Shame on them and their silence."

Syrian opposition demands missiles
to shoot down Assad's helicopters
"We have been requesting repeatedly that we be allowed or that our friends and allies be allowed to provide us with some sophisticated weapons in order for us to defend our people from the death from the death from the air that has come for the last three years from the Assad regime," said Miss Allaf.
"Allow us to stop it ourselves," she said. "We need to bring down these aircraft that are causing massive destruction on all of Syria."


 HORRIFIC SCENES AS TWENTY PEOPLE ARE KILLED IN AN ASSAD AIR STRIKE. Al Atareb (Aleppo): April 24, 2014 - Scenes of death, chaos, fear, anger and mourning only moments after Assad’s forces bombed the main street in this tiny town north west of Aleppo city.

 Al Atareb was one of the first towns to rise up and protest peacefully against the Assad regime and was on of the first fully liberated towns.

 However, if Assad cannot rule over you in tyranny, then he will not allow your town to live.


Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Residents of the besieged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk, in Damascus, Syria

There is no legal barrier to UN
cross-border operations in Syria
'For example, parties might temporarily refuse consent for reasons of "military necessity" where imminent military operations will take place on the proposed route for aid. They cannot, however, lawfully withhold consent to weaken the resistance of the enemy, cause starvation of civilians, or deny medical assistance. Where consent is withheld for these arbitrary reasons, the relief operation is lawful without consent.'

Monday, 28 April 2014

Excavation at site of blast

Syria conflict: Barrel-bombed Aleppo 'living in fear'

The BBC is still presenting Assad's war on Syria as one where it is difficult to see a right side. You see occasional bits of reporting of the real villainy.
"Tens of thousands of people have fled Aleppo in the last few months in a relentless campaign of bombing by the government."
Pannell supports the contention of Human Rights Watch that the barrel bombings are indiscriminate, without mentioning the possibility that they are in fact targeted at civilians, the intended target, not just collateral damage. We get the régime line and the BBC line, but not that of the opposition. When he finishes by saying, "Nowhere in Aleppo is safe, not on the government side, and certainly not on the opposition side," it suggests there is an equivalence between those facing the barrel bomb attacks and those who do not, further adding to the confusion of the BBC's audience.
I watched Ian Pannell's report on the One O'Clock news, and listened to another on the World Service. You could get from his reporting that Aleppo was now safer for journalists because the FSA and allied groups had kicked the extremists of ISIS out of the town, but if you didn't know the groups involved, it would just tell you that Syria has dangers everywhere.
He interviewed an English teacher who'd said he supported the revolution, but that some of the FSA had been thieves. In the actual interview he went on to say that he still supported the fight against Assad, but Pannell editorialised it in the TV version to him just saying he wanted the war to be over. And Pannell couldn't find a Syrian who would say the way the end the war is to get rid of Assad. He does report that Syrians feel abandoned, but doesn't really get anyone to understand why or what could be different.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Killing Spurs the Living to Continue Revolution
'The goal has become to destroy the regime, regardless the price they paid and are still to pay, he says, summarising the whole matter by saying that “we live in God’s hands and have always had a full faith in His will. Our life today is so difficult like as our brothers in the whole Eastern Ghouta. Despite that we have no choice but to continue to the end of the road of change we paid that expensive price to make." '
Also, "The Syrian slum areas were the first to participate in the revolution, and thus were the most vulnerable to the brutal destruction, displacement and murder."[…/Features/Slums+and+the+Syrian+R…]
and, “He’s a liar. They’re still there. We got reinforcements — Hezbollah fighters with one very senior officer, about 250 of them. They are very tough and fierce. Without them, I don’t think we could have held on,” he explained. “Of course there are drawbacks,” Abu Sa’ad mused, referring to the Hezbollah fighters. “We dare not drink or curse in front of them. They are very devout and austere men. They carry a Quran with them at all times and pray. I really think they loathe us sometimes.”

Demented Tony Blair recites the Saudis' creed in his latest speech

Image result for Demented Tony Blair recites the Saudis' creed in his latest speech

 Cockburn doesn't pass up the chance to slander the Syrian opposition.

 "But in Syria the armed opposition is dominated by the very jihadists – Jabhat al-Nusra, the official al-Qa'ida affiliate and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, formerly al-Qa'ida in Iraq – against whom Blair is warning the world. They now control an area the size of Britain in north and east Syria and north and west Iraq and can operate anywhere between Basra and the Mediterranean coast of Syria."

 Cockburn does what he accuses Blair of, but in reverse, against the Sunni Muslims who have risen in revolt in Syria.
 "Blair appears to agree with the Sunni conspiracy theory whereby Shia movements in Iraq, Syria, Bahrain, Lebanon and Yemen are delegitimised by referring to them as 'safavids' who act as pawns of Iran and have no communal interests of their own to defend."