Saturday, 10 January 2015

"We Rattled Too Many Cages:" An Eyewitness Account of Journalist Marie Colvin's Death in Syria
"In the book you talk about how Assad's forces knew they were shelling a media center. Why do you think he was targeting journalists?"
"The night before Marie and Remi’s murder, Marie had given three interviews, to CNN, C4 in the UK, and the BBC World Service. The next morning I could clearly define the firing pattern of the regime gunners. They were bracketing in on us, which is adjusting fire with the use of a drone, until they had precisely targeted the building. They then fired four rockets directly into the media center.
Why? What was happening in Baba Amr was wholesale slaughter, Marie had the audacity to report live from the scene. We had witnessed the butchery and that crossed the boundaries as to what the regime would tolerate. We rattled too many cages in Damascus."
"Russian President Vladimir Putin said that perhaps it was the rebels who staged a chemical weapons attack. What do you think of that?"
"The polite answer to that is ‘complete rubbish,’ my heartfelt answer is, ‘utter bollocks.’ I spent time with these people; they are fighting for their lives, for survival. They showed Marie and I warmth that went beyond the need to get western journalists in and out of the country. People died on our behalf, they died in an effort to show the world the horrors of what was happening to their own people and families. The concept that they gassed their own families to garner Western support is an anathema to me."

A rebel fighter from the Free Syrian Army's Al-Rahman legion takes up position behind sandbags in Jobar, a suburb of Damascus, on December 22, 2014. (Reuters/Baszsem Khabieh)

Syrian rebels to receive US training to fight Assad, says opposition official
'The senior FSA official praised Washington’s “response” to the FSA’s calls to amend the military plan and allow the FSA to target not just ISIS, but also Assad regime forces. “This is something that we insisted on.” '
If you are abandoned by the world, especially when you are derided as the problem and any aid you receive seen as the problem, it's a good idea to be extra grateful for any actual help. But you can see clearly from this that getting rid of Assad has never been part of America's plan. It's not surprising that the US is happy to see dictators remain in power, the question is why the rest of the world has refused to help Syria, to stop the carnage, the destabilisation of the region and the rise of ISIS that have resulted from letting Assad get away with murder. There's a report that 3000 rebels in the Qalamoun have allied with ISIS*, because they receive no support, and the alternative is giving in to Assad and the sectarian foreign legion that is Hezbollah. People have been forced to such desperate choices when they are given no alternative. It isn't the safe option to say nothing can be done to help, that's how it's got as bad as it is.
Note 23/02/15: I've now seen that Al-Masdar News is an untrustworthy pro-Assad source.

If Syrians were merely fighting a dictator, as the Nicaraguans with Somoza, or fighting a foreign invasion, like the Vietnamese with the Americans, for the rest of the world not to offer solidarity would be a simple abandonment of principle. But when they are doing both of those, and in addition are the frontline against a terrorist threat we all say we would like dealt with, the abandonment is criminal.
"Gutman reported being told by Syrian opposition leaders of being ignored by the Obama administration last April when they warned of a major ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) offensive brewing. The alleged warning centered on Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria rather than on Iraq; still, nationalist opposition requests for more material to fight ISIL were reportedly ignored. According to Gutman, “Moderate rebels, despite their battlefield setbacks, have unique assets, such as ground-level intelligence about the locations and movements of the Islamic State, a grasp of local politics and the drive to expel foreign-led forces from their country. But they’ve failed to gain traction with the Obama administration for their plans to fight the terror groups, and recently they’ve had trouble even getting a hearing.”
It is not too late for American policy to change fundamentally, especially given the requirement that ISIL be beaten in Syria—not just Iraq. But the administration seems single-minded in its pursuit of a nuclear agreement with Iran—a worthy goal to be sure. Is the goal made more achievable by bowing to Tehran and its client in Damascus? And if it is, who will want to confront the bill—particularly the itemization of children slaughtered and innocent lives brought to ruin? Perhaps this too can be blamed on those who had the temerity to risk all for civilized governance in Syria."

Friday, 9 January 2015

Syrians prepare for 200th Friday anti-regime protest in the snow'One researcher and activist involved with the Syria conflict goes by the name of Not George Sabra, and his blog “Democratic Revolution, Syria Style” compiles a list of the weekly demo slogans. He believes that the slogans still function as a way to identify the main groups in the Syria conflict.
“They’re not really ideological, but represent the broad masses who are friendly to both the Free Syrian Army and the Islamic Front [militias], but are hostile to Assad and ISIS.” '

yassin h saleh: Forty-four months and fourty-four years/ 4- Palestinization of Syrians and the present world condition


 "A radical solution to the problem of the Syrian refugees requires standing in solidarity with them as they work to reclaim their country, instead of acting as if Syrians fled their country as a result of a natural disaster. It requires understanding that the entity who Palestinianized Syrians is, mainly, the local Israel - the Assad state.

 Aspects of the Israelization of this “state” are many. It has a complete monopoly over the air force. It has been protected from condemnation by four Russian-Chinese vetoes in the Security Council, just as the United States has done to protect aggressive Israel. It has categorically refused to recognize the opposition as negotiation partners and has expressed no interest in negotiating with them. It has developed a ‘modernizing’ ideology complete with an array of symbols that conceal basic matters of justice and political equality. It dehumanizes Syrian protestors and resisters and accuses them of being terrorists, with the tacit cooperation of the international community as marked (for example) by the granting of a UNESCO award to an organization led by Asma’ al Assad, the tyrant’s wife. And the public killer at the head of this state is supported by all the fascists and Stalinists of the free world and is interviewed in its free press!

 The West’s exclusive focus on Dae’sh marks the other side of the dehumanization of Syrians, and reduces their much larger struggle to this single, fascist entity. With this move, the society of Syrians inside and outside the country is completely obscured, and as people, they become invisible. This outcome is not a matter of lack of information or knowledge, it is a matter of politics - a politics of the elite, even though some of them argue that they represent the masses."

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with US President Barack Obama (L) before the APEC Summit on November 11, 2014 (AFP Photo/Ria Novosti/Kremlin Pool/Presidential Press Service)

The White House-Kremlin position on Assad
"What’s curious about these Russian priorities is the extent to which they dovetail with White House talking points — especially post-Geneva II. After that conference went nowhere, the US emphasis shifted to fighting terrorism and a humanitarian cessation of hostilities. A year-end statement posted on the Facebook page of the US Embassy in Damascus perfectly illustrated this shift. The statement defined the US role as leading efforts “to meet humanitarian needs, defeat ISIL, and foster a peaceful resolution to the conflict.” Nothing in there about removing Assad."

Roundup: Differences remain between U.S., Turkey on training Syrian opposition
I suspect the second part is exaggerated, due to the Turkish tendency to vilify the PKK and anyone associated with it, which undermines the important part, that far from being an equal partner in a sectarian proxy war in Syria with Iran and Russia who have invested billions in weaponry and tens of thousands of troops, the West has done as little as it could to help the resistance to Assad. 
There was a claim a few weeks ago that Turkey was entering a new deal with Russia, and was abandoning the desire to be rid of Assad. Like a lot of the conspiracy stories about those with some real claim to be opposed to Assad, it doesn't seem to be the case.
Elsewhere, Tariq Ali* is telling more lies about Syria. He has his own TV channel now. That's going to be an embarrassment for anyone associated with it some day. The Stop The War Coalition has reposted a piece by John Rees** about the causes of terrorism, which doesn't even bother to mention Syria, and there's a new one by Lindsey German*** recycling the lies about the opposition in Syria, and Western funding thereof, being responsible for ISIS. However muddled the SWP is, these people are a lot worse, whitewashing Assad's crimes only a step away from openly justifying them.
' "They (Western powers) say we won't enter in a land war. Then we told them, if you do not enter yourselves, let's support the Free Syrian Army (FSA). They did not support the FSA," he said.
Erdogan also criticized the U.S. for airlifting weapons to the Kurdish-populated Syrian city of Ayn al-Arab, also known as Kobane, near the Turkish border, saying that some of the weapons ended up in the hands of the IS, and others went to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), an affiliate of the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK).'
* "Libe is reporting that two of the three CharlieHebdo suspects who they identify as French brothers Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi from Paris had recently returned from Syria, where they had fought among anti-government rebels. If true this would be part of a pattern. EU intelligence agencies (the French and British hyper-active on this front) are perfectly aware of who is being recruited from within the Muslim communities to fight where. It was the same in Bosnia where one of the LSE students was radicalised and latter assassinated an investigative US journalist in Karachi.
The French were preparing to back an invasion of Syria and regime change. So it would be useful for critically-minded French and British journalists as to what has been really going on before the emergence of Frankenstein ISIS scared people a bit...Its a murky story and is bound to come out sooner or later..."[]
** […/what-you-need-to-know-about-terrori…]
*** "ISIS has received weapons and money from the Saudis and Qataris, has grabbed weapons provided by the west for other anti Assad groups, and has received material support from Turkey."[…/paris-massacre-lessons-that-need-to…]

ISIS and counter-revolution: towards a Marxist analysis

 The only mention of the Free Syrian Army is an unverified, and unverifiable claim, as the footnote link loops back to the article, that they are linking up with ISIS. The SWP seems to get more ignorant about Syria as time goes by.

 "Fighters from the Free Syrian Army and Islamist factions in Syria were reported to be seeking alliances with ISIS in late November as US bombing intensified."

 More writing off of the actual revolution in Syria from the SWP, leading to the Islamophobic approach of reducing all the forces fighting Assad to puppets of the Gulf states or America, and identifying them with ISIS. And beginning with the claim that Western states are using humanitarian rhetoric to justify an Iraq-style intervention, ignoring the actual humanitarian disaster they are feebly responding to, and largely ignoring when it comes to Assad.

 "The question of sectarianism at a regional level was not of course confined to rhetoric but had by 2012-13 taken the form of interventions by regional powers into the spiralling conflict in Syria, with Sunni Islamist forces armed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf States confronting Hizbollah’s Shia Islamists backed by Iran alongside Assad’s troops."

 I noticed this from 2012 earlier:

 "It may be time to read, even re-read, Edward Said’s Covering Islam. Critical intellectuals did not believe US propaganda about al-Qaida's links to the Iraqi regime prior to the 2003 invasion. Shouldn’t the same criteria be used in the case of Syria? The regime there has also justified its repression of the popular movement from spring 2011 by depicting it as the work of"Salafis" and "foreign agents" funded by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, France, Britain and America. A similar scepticism about the Syrian authorities and their claims would be welcome."


Why Assad Still Must Go


 'If most rebels acted out of religious zeal, how did they earn support from members of Syria's minorities? Salamiya, a majority-Ismaili Shite town of105,000, which held its first protests against the Assad regime in April of 2011, has hosted massive anti-regime protests deep into the Revolution's armed phase. The Free Syrian Army head in Salamiya is himself Ismaili. Is he acting out of Ismaili religious zeal? Syrian Christians have also established multiple anti-Assad brigades . Did they raise arms out of passion for Jesus? Just two weeks ago, a group of 30 armed Alawi draft-dodgers urged others to join them because "We are shooting at [other sects] for Bashar al-Assad...Enough." Were they acting out of love for Ali?

 We know why Syrian Christians, Ismailis and even Alawis have taken up arms against Assad, because they tell us why in their defection videos: the regime is "corrupt" and "tyrannical." It "perpetrates massacres" and "destroys houses onto the heads of children." These were the same reasons given by most Syrian Sunnis who defected. They are related to simple dignity and humanity, not religious zeal.'

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Abdulrahman Al-Masri

Russia's stance on Syria creates scepticism towards vague peace initiative
When we're talking about what to do about Syria, worrying about what Obama might do comes a long way behind stopping what Putin is doing in Syrians' lists of priorities.
"Russia has provided significant support for the regime of Bashar Al-Assad. It has used its right of veto in the UN Security Council, along with China, on four consecutive occasions to defend the Assad government from international intervention. The flow of arms and ammunition from Russia to Syria has remained entirely uninterrupted, despite significant international pressure on Moscow to disengage. Opponents of the Assad regime consider Russia to be a partner in the government's crimes, violence and killing of the Syrian people."

Report reaffirms Syria chemical weapons use

Image result for Report reaffirms Syria chemical weapons use al-jazeera

 'Al Jazeera's diplomatic editor James Bays, reporting from the UN, said that western members of the UN Security Council blamed the Syrian authorities for the attacks as only they had access to helicopters.

 US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power tweeted that "32 witnesses saw or heard sound of helicopters as bombs struck; 29 smelled chlorine. Only Syrian regime uses helos ." '

 Those shitheads who denied Assad's responsibility for the sarin attacks last August look more stupid every day. The idea that it was a US hoax designed to enable Iraq Mark II is ever more foolish in the light of the lack of action by the US or anyone else. Even now there is no threat to take action if the Security Council fails in its responsibility to protect the Syrian people from these war crimes, as the US prefers to use Syrian suffering as a card in its competition with Russia than to bring it to an end. Still it is Russia that has the main responsibility for the destabilisation of Syria and the region, by supplying Assad with weapons and denying his crimes.

 The Guardian reports photo is captioned, "The UN Security Council has been intensely involved in the issue of alleged chemical weapons use in Syria." The is headlined, "Syria Used Chlorine Gas In Attacks", but then says the experts failed to apportion blame, and we hear the lies of the Syrian régime and the Russians before a truncated version of Samantha Power's remark is added as an afterthought.[…/syria-chlorine-chemical-weapon…]

Massive Protest In Damascus Against Al-Nusra and Assad

"No To Authority, And No To Control!"
The people united, and stuff.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Image result for Syria conflict: Sisters 'scarred for life' by war

Syria conflict: Sisters 'scarred for life' by war
Not scarred by war, but by Assad, a bomb wasn't just dropped, but dropped by his airforce.
' "There are lots of Syrians who need treatment and can't get it."
And he prays quietly for Rahaf's recovery, and for all those suffering without help.'
From two years ago*, when the narrative that this is a civil war rather than a government assault hadn't solidified. The failure to play is reminiscent of Iraqis under American bombing:
'This is the story of one Syrian family who survived government shelling and reached safety - and treatment - in Jordan, when so many others have not.
"They are not the same children that they were before. They used to play with other kids ... but now they don't like to go out."
"We thank God that we were saved," says Abu Abdul Malik. "There are still people under the rubble - whose bodies have not been collected. We pray for them." '

Syrian refugees in Jabaa, Lebanon

Syrians entering Lebanon face new restrictions
"Mashha is Sunni, like the bulk of the refugees."
90% of those in Lebanon, because the millions are fleeing from the Alawi-dominated state of Assad which has terrorised Sunnis in particular since the revolution began, not just "displaced by the civil war as rebel forces try to oust President Bashar al-Assad," as the BBC would have it.

Why no one cares about Syria

"Just because the UN Security Council cannot find a solution is no more evidence of complexity than if my cat can't do long division. 
Are they as bad as each other, al-Qaida on one hand, Assad on the other? This is the argument of equivalence, and reasonably well-informed commentators use this all the time in relation to Syria. But the truth is, the Assad government has carried out such unbelievable crimes against its people, whether it is barrel bombing, whether it is the use of chemical weapons, whether it is the targeting of innocent populations of women and children, whether it is the targeting of hospitals and universities, these things are happening all the time. Sometimes, in the media, they talk about indiscriminate targeting, it isn't indiscriminate. It would be indiscriminate if they were collateral damage to a specific military target, but there is no military objective here, they are targeting their population, so it's not indiscriminate. And when Obama said, give us your chemical weapons, he handed a permission slip to Assad to do his worst, as long as it didn't involve chemical weapons."
Also shows a Punch cartoon from 1847 with the same dismissal of the Irish as violent savages that is employed against the Sunni Muslims of Syria. "Spare a trifle your honour, for a poor Irish lad to buy a blunderbuss with."

Monday, 5 January 2015

The rise and ugly fall of a moderate Syrian rebel offers lessons for the West
'Moderate rebels “are living literally hand to mouth,” he said. “The West never provided much help, the Saudis never provided much.”
“In the absence of reliable support, of course you’re going to have commanders desperate to find resources for their troops,” Ford said. “This American caution aggravates problems. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.” '

Image result for amnesty The world’s pitiful response to Syria’s refugee crisis

The world’s pitiful response to Syria’s refugee crisis
"The Gulf states– which include some of the world’s wealthiest countries – have not offered to take a single refugee from Syria so far. Russia and China have similarly failed to pledge a single resettlement place. Excluding Germany, the rest of the European Union (EU) has pledged to resettle a paltry 0.17 per cent of refugees in the main host countries."

Syrian Coalition Slams Iran’s Arrogant Remarks

Syrian Coalition Slams Iran’s Arrogant Remarks
The real foreign intervention, the war we should be trying to stop.
'Saleh calls upon the international community to force Iran to pull its terrorist militias out of Syria and stop aiding Assad in his barbaric war on the Syrian people. “Such practices reflect the insistence of Hezbollah and the Iranian regime to try to transform the popular uprising in Syria into a sectarian war that will lead to dire consequences not only to Syria but the whole region.” '

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Islamic State fighters in Raqqa

War with Isis: Inside the Islamic State caliphate, life goes on - but beatings are frequent and punishments swift and savageUnlike the Independent's opinion formers, who want us to side with Assad.
'Asked if he would rather live under Assad or Isis, Ibrahim considers. "I will choose neither … in both any mistake can cost you your life." '